The Trouble with Names
The Name Game
When I hear of celebrities and everyday folk trying to think of names for their children, I want to go talk to them and tell them that they should think long and hard about this decision. And I'm not just thinking about the days that teachers butcher their names on attendance sheets, older people make up an entirely different name, or in my case people call me what they want.
I also think about the decisions this kid will maybe one day make in perhaps selecting these parents' arrangements when they become elderly. You know like what nursing home, where the nursing home is and so forth. And then that kid might think of the name you gave them and how much trouble it's caused them and decidedly turn the tables on their parents.
You don't want this at any cost. I don't care how cool it sounds in theory no kid wants to be named Bear, Pilot Inspektor, Puma, Placenta or whatever other name you think sounds good at the moment you hear it. I think names help represent the spirit of the person, defines their character as well as initiate their own ideas about self-perception and identity.
And while my name seems to have caused more trouble than it should, I couldn't think of being called anything else. My name essentially is a part of who I am that I wouldn't change even though I could. I am happy with my parents' decision, but unfortunately there are more kids who I'm sure wished their parents would have made another decision.
So in honor of those kids, I decided to write a hub on the impact of how my name has shaped my identity as well as the unforeseen consequences that I have faced as a result of it. Most importantly this hub is a warning to anyone who is having a child or will have a child one day and what the name for their child will do.
Say My Name, Say My Name
I know not everyone has a unique and interesting story about how they got their name. I happen to have a very interesting story that started way back in the days of Club MTV and Aquanet. Fortunately, they didn't influence how I got my name.
My mom was pregnant with me for a while before she actually decided on my name. In the beginning, she assumed I was a boy just because her stomach was growing quite big quite fast. She didn't so much say boy as "football player" because of my activity in the womb. Had I been a boy you wouldn't be reading the hubs of Alecia, but Xavier. That's right Xavier. It doesn't have rhyme or reason except that my dad happened to like the name.
Fortunately, my parents found out I was a girl and set out to find a name that was not only unique to me but memorable. My mom said she liked the names Jamie and Ebony. Looking back, I'm very glad she didn't do that. Jamie is cute and sweet, as a kid I was more big-eyed and quiet than sweet. And Ebony brings too many other meaning for me including the magazine, the color black, and of course Rick James's "Ebony Eyes." And so with either divine insight or a swift kick from yours truly they decided on the name I have now.
They liked Alicia as a name, my mom just didn't like the spelling. Like me, she says things phonetically and it sounded more like A-Lee-See-Uh than how she thought of A-Leigh-Sha, so she swiped out the first i for an e. And not long after I was born, several members on both sides of my family decided to give me a new name in more ways than one without figuring out my given one.
My name in English means "of noble birth." In Spanish it means, "honest." And in German it means, "sweet." I didn't make this up it's all here.
Little did my parents know that my name would be reworked, rearranged, and interpolated into some of the craziest things ever. And this is just not from friends, classmates, and coworkers-some of my own family members have never mastered the full pronunciation of my name- therefore I was called everything but my name.
See That Girl, Look at the Nickname Queen
My parents, while they did love my name till this day only call me by my full name in public or polite company. Since the day I was born, they and some of my other family members have called me Boo-Boo after the purple-necktie clad sidekick of Yogi Bear. And even though I'm an adult they still call me that and I don't care. I think I'll always be called Boo or Boo-Boo and I'll always answer.
My maternal grandfather somehow settled on Nina (which isn't my middle name by the way) but it stuck and it was special because he was the only one who called me that.
The rest of my mom's side has stuck to calling me Lee-Sha which is my name minus the A. Don't ask how that came about, but I think one of my cousins couldn't pronounce my full name and it clicked. Again, I still respond to this.
My eldest aunt on my dad's side called me Lisa. For some reason, she was the only person I'd let call me that because every birthday or occasion when she'd try to address the card to me, she'd forget my real name. I didn't realize how much I loved hearing her say that until she passed a couple of years ago but there are moments when I hear her voice in my head and it brings back memories.
But outside of the family I was usually called by my given name or the name most people thought it looked like on the attendance sheet. That all changed when I got to high school. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was so tired of being called my given name that I devised a way to be called something else. So I announced at work that my new nickname was the Murphster. Thankfully only my coworkers called me that and after I graduated, I was smart enough not to take it with me but looking back it is pretty funny.
My freshman year of college, I had an awesome PE TA who didn't want to struggle with my first name so she shortened my last and called me Murph. This stuck with all my friends and they called me that or either DJ Murph because when we'd study I'd mix the tunes up. And as complicated as it sounds, I loved every moment of it.
I may have alot of nicknames, but each one has a special meaning to me. They bring back memories of childhood, fun, or just plain comedy. And while I value my real name, there's something about my nicknames that I'm okay with claiming.
Most Popular Baby Names 2011
What's My Name?
Now, I still meet people who fail to pronounce my name but as long as it sounds somewhat similar to Alecia, I'm okay. I finally realized I don't have it that bad when I went to school and their were kids with more elaborate names like LaQuisha that actually had to endure more trouble with their names. Some kids even went by their middle name to make it easier on themselves, but I long ago decided against that when I saw how many people had my middle name (Michelle) or went by it.
Fortunately, nowadays there are a lot of people with unique names like Beyonce and Kanye but I'm beyond sure they had to endure alot of hardship pre-fame trying to get checked off on the attendance sheet. And while their name has garnered them a special layer of attention in pop culture, it hasn't made life entirely easier in terms of giving kids names.
Now, I know your probably thinking I made up some of the names I mentioned in the first capsule, but I didn't. These are the actual names of some children of the famous and not so famous. Bear is the name of Alicia Silverstone's son; Pilot Inspektor is the offspring of Jason Lee; Puma is the child of Erykah Badu; and finally Placenta was the name of one of my high school teacher's former students whose mom was young and thought it sounded good when she was giving birth.
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying as a criticism for giving your child a unique name. But I am not. It's just that like any major decision that affects someone else who you will hopefully share a deep and abiding bond with for the rest of your life. Everyone wants something to make their child stand out, but the truth lies within how you raise them to be good, productive, insightful and caring individuals who live life to the fullest.
It's All In the Name...Game
In the end however you decide to name your child, it's all about how you perceive this decision but like I said you have to think of how it affects the child. Now there are some people who really do love their real names and live their lives embracing how their parents named them. And then there are others who reject their given name in search of a new identity.
One of the most interesting stories I've heard about someone decidedly not going by their given name has to do with the singer P!nk. I personally am a big fan of hers. I love her take charge attitude and her seething vocals, but I always wondered why she didn't use her real name. I didn't know what it was until a few years ago and ironically enough it was Alecia, same spelling at all. She explained on Behind the Music a couple of years ago that she didn't identify with that name and wanted something that expresses her personality better, so she took the name of a character from Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink.
While I do like my nicknames and don't mind being called it, I can't see everyone in my life always calling me that forever. My nicknames to me encompass something specific in my life in relation to the people I was with at the time and as that changes I won't always be known as Boo-Boo or Nina or whatnot but everyone knows Alecia and that's fine with me.
And while there will always be a young Calvin who becomes world famous as Snoop Dogg or little Sean who grows up and calls himself Diddy but used to be Puffy or sometimes Puff Daddy, their names and nicknames are something that will always be associated with them. Does it mean they hate their given names? No. It just means that they morphed a part of their identity to create a certain public persona that people know and love.
So, if you're thinking of naming your kid soon, don't worry. You may not get it right in your mind or theirs and that's ok. A name is just that, a calling card to the world which eventually shapes your identity but it's only one part of the puzzle. The rest is up to you to put together. Thanks for reading :)!