Say Your Name
Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?
I’ve got nothing against my first name. It’s a perfectly good name, inoffensive, easy to spell (until the modern craze for being ‘different’ chucked another ‘l’ into the middle and confused the issue, like sticking a ‘y’ into Jane. My second daughter is called Jane, and she has to spell it for goodness sake!).
The only problem I have with it is that it has nothing to do with me. I don’t know what a Helen is supposed to feel like, but I’m not it. I’m grateful, though, that I was spared the indignity that I’m sure must be in store for so many of today’s poor inoffensive babies. Imagine being named Pixie when you were a wee scrap of a thing, only to end up six feet tall and built like a brick dunny. And imagine fronting the schoolyard when your name is Messiah. Or Death. (Yes, it’s true.)
Anyway, as I said, I’ve got nothing against being called Helen, but in 72 years, I’ve never related to it as me. This could be because I had so many nicknames it was rarely used – or did I have the nicknames because nobody else saw me as a Helen either? Not that matters now.
I do sometimes wonder, though, out of purely academic interest (bit late for anything else) whether life would have been different if I’d had a name I saw as me. Would I have felt less like amorphous flotsam and more like a person? And if I’d ever found a name I did relate to, would I have adopted it? Probably not. You get what you’re given.