Category: I hate my name
Question of the week: How do you feel about your own name?
This is a topic that has been brought up in the nameberry forums, with opinions ranging from love to how could my parents do this to me? What we’d like to know now is:
What is it that you like or dislike about your name? Do you feel that it fits you perfectly or not at all? Have you ever considered changing it?
Has it affected other people’s impression of you? Positively or negatively?
Has your feeling about your name changed over time, perhaps as it has become more or less stylish or trendy?
How has your attitude towards your own name affected your approach to naming your own children? Would you choose something similar in style or popularity or one that’s diametrically different?
I’d always hated my name. When I was fourteen, I found a book in the library called “The History of Names.” I looked up my given name, Margaret, and was stunned by its derivations. Pages and pages of them, well over 100 versions, often three variations of it for a single country including nicknames like the one I got stuck with…Peggy.
I ran my finger down the endless list until one of them, Greta, stopped me cold. It was a perfect switch: it’s used in England, Sweden, and Germany (a nod to Dad); it was a natural nickname for Margaret (especially if spelled Margret); it ended in “a,” making it feel exotic; with my last name, Goss, it was alliteration and, as for personal stationery, this was a name with graphic sex appeal!
Cradling the book in my hands, leaning back in contentment, my attention strayed to the cover of the book at the top of that day’s heap: a smoldering photograph of Greta Garbo. That did it. I’d found the right answer to my name game. I’d tapped utopia.
Walking home, I thought about how I was going to tell my mother. We’re talking a woman who went wild over every Margaret or Peggy she’d ever met. We’re talking a woman with roots in Massachusetts, a state where they sing “Peg ‘O My Heart” by their first birthday. We’re talking a woman who graduated from college with a class composed entirely of Margarets nicknamed Peggy. This meant I grew up surrounded by a legion of women I called “Aunt Peggy” – which didn’t even include numerous blood relations named Margaret (also called Peggy). Not a Megan, Marge, Maggie or Margo in the bunch. The walk home was uphill. A steep one. I grew less confident with every step.
I was four years old, and dressed in my best Wonder Woman Underoos, complete with lasso and headband. I had just finished watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoon featuring superheroes known as the Wonder Twins, and I decided to act out their “Wonder Twins, activate! Wonder Twins, deactivate!” super power ritual with my stuffed monkey, Marvin. (Marvin was a passive, but willing, participant.) After a few rounds of this, followed by a first-rate lasso routine, I came to the logical conclusion that I had acquired the ability to fly.
I climbed on top of a tall cabinet, adjusted my cape for optimum glide, waved to Marvin, and launched myself into the air, horizontal to the hardwood flooring below. Suffice it to say, en route to falling victim to gravity, I experienced the first “Holy @#$%&!” moment of my life.
If you could bottle the feeling of sheer panic and doom I experienced as I plummeted to Earth, you’d have a pretty good idea of the terror and dread I feel whenever I’m asked to reveal my full name. Most people love to share their names with others, but the mere thought of discussing my middle moniker reduces me to a trembling, airborne four-year-old.
Granted, Jill, my first name, rhymes with ill, kill, pill, and shrill, and is associated with a little girl who lacks the ability to successfully walk down a hill, but despite these challenges, I actually prefer Jill to my more melodic middle name.