In Life, we are given a name when we are born (sometimes before and sometimes a little bit after), and this name is usually the one that becomes our official name.
This name is often recorded on a birth certificate, which is our first official document. It’s the first piece of paper that declares that we are real, where we became real and to whom.
Although our birth certificate records our official name, we have other names, too, some of which represent ourselves expressing ourselves.
Think of all of the names you have and what they mean to you:
Over the years, I had nicknames like “Kitten,” “Butterfly,” and “Light Foot,” from my parents. My brothers call me “Rach” or “Sis.” And my friends used to call me “Rags” which was the shortened version of Ragnohailt, which we saw was the Scottish version of Rachel in some bizarre baby name dictionary. Boyfriends tried to call me “Hun” which I can’t stand, or “Baby Doll,” which I also didn’t like very much.
My friends in elementary school and high school were imaginative, smart, and creative. We were always pretending to be one person or another (this was before computers and cell phones, so we had to have some way of amusing ourselves.)
My pretend names included the professional receptionist Linda Starr (you always choose that name!), Lechar (Rachel spelled backwards), Ray (elementary school boy name–sure my fourth grade teacher loved it when most of the girls in our class changed their names one day.) When we’d play “Little House on the Prairie,” I was usually Mary. There was also “Guiniviere” who was around during our King Arthur phase, and “Ace” who helped me pass 9th grade algebra.
People sometimes change their last name when they get married, and don’t always change it back after they get divorced.
I have friends who have changed their names because they didn’t feel like the name suited them, including one friend who legally changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name.
In the recent Netflix Original movie, “To the Bone,” the main character changes her name at the suggestion of her counselor, from Ellen to “Eli.”
Sometimes writers will use a pen name, or people will adopt a name for other reasons.
And I know several people who change their names at coffee shops because they feel like their original name may cause confusion and/or jokes.
Journal, if you wish
What names have you used to express yourself over the years? Do you have a coffee shop name? Do you have nicknames that you like or dislike, and is there a reason why?
A Rose By Any Other Name*
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her family’s rival house of Montague, that is, that he is named “Montague”.