Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Am My Name

Growing up with a middle name that contains 14 letters and 7 syllables, a first and last name that rhyme with R-rated taunt-worthy body parts was not easy. [Insert a bullying story here.] I won't bore anyone with the details of how I was bullied throughout elementary and middle school due to my name because weren't we all? bullied for something.  To tell you the truth, I didn't learn how to spell or properly pronounce my middle name until junior high. It didn't mean much to me then. It was  different and made me different and therefore an east target.

My three names (given name, middle and surname) are of Nigerian Yoruba origin. My given name in English roughly translates to 'Everlasting joy' or 'Eternal Happiness'. Heavy, right?
The translation of my middle name is 'God gives me joy' or  'Joyful Gift of God'. Pressure much?

According to a name meaning website I recently visited, my name includes the following traits:
Who is she?
Immensely likeable, charming and conciliatory; she is also energetic, courageous and fiercely determined. Extremely sensitive and emotional by nature, she could experience fluctuating moods and a certain amount of nervous tension... [Silent] is capable of living in harmony with the vibrations of her master number 11, which endow her with tremendous physical and moral strength. Her view on life would therefore be broad and idealistic; her aspirations elevated and noble... (especially if she was born [...] in November.  [Silent] is honest, frank and direct; she doesn´t see the point in beating around the bush and loathes pretentiousness with a passion while injustice which makes her absolutely furious. Indeed, even though she is usually all smiles, sweetness and light, she is nevertheless capable of violent rage if you rub her up the wrong way. She can be very talkative and spontaneous, lively and quick as a flash; and although she remains essentially altruistic with a great love for humanity, she is not completely indifferent to the material realm and could sometimes be sensitive to external symbols of wealth. She likes to take care of her appearance and could have a penchant for precious stones or beautiful clothes.

What does she like?
[Silent] likes to make others happy and maintain harmonious relationships with those around her. She enjoys communicating and exchanging within a group that she animates with warmth, generosity, a sense of humor and a critical mind. She has a profound sense of friendship and loves to be able to help others.

If this aint me, man listen this is so me!

We won't even discuss my surname but you should know there is a famous non-blood related singer with the same surname.  I say all of this to say, I have a lot to live up to. This is something I don't take light heartedly.
As an adult, I appreciate my grandmother for giving me names that represents who she is and what she wanted me to be. My names are unique and give me something to strive towards. Unfortunately, having these names aren't all peaches and cream. I experience the same annoying interactions with new individuals. The most annoying interaction is due to my given name being "difficult" for an unfamiliar individuals to pronounce. A lot of times they shorten it without my consent. It is for the reasons mentioned before, my frank personality mainly, that when someone mispronounces, shortens, or misspells any of these names, I speak up.

When I moved to New York, I started a new practice, I began going by my complete given name. I no longer readily allow new people to refer to me by my old nickname. I don't press the issue much but normally upon introduction I will provide my complete given name.  For over 2 decades, I introduced myself to people with my nickname because at that point, my name didn't mean much to me. I didn't let it define me. But these days it does. I find it much more respectful for a person  to attempt pronounce my given name and completely butcher it, versus those that don't even try, scrunch their face and tell me what they are going to call me. Seriously, how would you like it if I called you asshole from this day forth? How does that make you feel?

Listen, I am my name.

I am a joyful gift of God with everlasting joy.

I am also, "honest, frank and direct," so when we meet, at least attempt to call me by the name I provide.


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