By Nile Cappello
My name is, without a doubt, one of my most defining characteristics. Yes, I am loud, outspoken, slightly (or more than slightly) obnoxious, extremely determined (read: stubborn), and quite a few other things — but with a name like Nile, I wouldn’t have to be any of these to stand out.
Most people tell me they have never met someone named Nile. They also ask me if I was born in Egypt, conceived on the Nile River (ew), or am Egyptian. My co-worker said before my first day she was convinced I would be a tall, dark, Egyptian goddess. I am not. I am small, pale, blonde, and overwhelmingly white.
Although my name was clearly inspired by the river in Egypt, I’m actually named after my grandfather Neil. In a time when made-up names like Jazlyn and “creative” spellings like Madilyn and Joslyn litter the Top 1000 list, I’m thankful to have a bit of history and familial significance behind my name.
More than anything, I’m thankful to have my name at all. I’m thankful to have something that inspires me to stand out as much as it suggests I will, an automatic conversation-starter, a unique part of myself that immediately distinguishes me. I’m thankful to have parents who were brave enough to take a chance on a name that many people (many more than I know, I’m sure) thought would never, ever work.
And I like to think I’ve lived up to it — after all, it’d be hard to be a quiet, shy, or private person named Nile. I get asked about it constantly, have told the story of its origin more times than I can count, and am often having to chuckle at a joke despite having heard it 500 times prior (deNILE is more than just a river in Egypt, eh?). But I love it — every time I introduce myself, I do it with pride, and I do it with the confidence that I will fill the unique, distinctive, and eye-catching shoes that it sets in front of me.
For parents considering unique names, realize that choosing one will undoubtedly have an effect on the child’s personality. Whether the name makes the child or the child makes the name, I’m still not sure — and frankly, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a private family likely to be annoyed with repeatedly explaining the reasoning behind your child’s name (or names), maybe reconsider. More importantly, consider what a ‘unique’ or ‘creative’ name means to you — a funky spelling that will cost your child years of their life spent spelling it? A name not popular in your area? A name not popular yet, but likely to become more mainstream in the next few years? A spunky familial name with an honor tie-in? And most importantly, consider why you’re making this choice.
For my parents, you can see it was a combination of a lot of these things — familial significance, uncommon both by regional and international standards, spunk, funk, and everything in between. My name has always been something I speak about with pride instead of shame — and with a bit of foresight, I think any kid can wear (and rock) a name like Nile.
This blog post was originally featured on Yes, Like The River.