Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's in a Name?

I thought about all of my nicknames today.

When I was little, I was called "Shelly," then "Shell-Belle" after the Beatles' "My Michelle."

Friends gave me a few random nicknames over time, but I always just preferred my name. I figured I was given it for a reason- I might as well stick with it...

When I got married, I was given a nickname. "Chicky." I have no idea where it came from or why it came about, but apparently it stuck.  I was never really a fan, but thought everyone needed an endearing nickname.  Of course, it also made me feel like a puppy or something.  I never could reconcile the idea in my mind.

I talked to a friend a few months back, and she mentioned that a major red flag of an emotional or physical abuser is they won't use your given name in common conversation.  It creates a connection with you, and makes it harder to belittle you and degrade you.  Makes sense to me--I would have a hard time being cruel to something I have an emotional connection with.  Of course, I have a hard time being cruel in general.

So, when there were times I wasn't called my name, I just went with the flow.

Then, as I became a teacher, I turned into Mrs. Winn.  I liked the novelty of it for a while, but then after hearing it hundreds of times a day, it gets old...

Now that I am divorced, I asked that the school call me Ms. Winn. I still kept the name for now- avoid confusion with work, my kids, so on.  I do love to hear the announcements in the morning when the principal will sometimes say "If you have any questions, report to Mrs. Winn.... MS. Winn's room..."

I looked at changing my name back to my maiden name, but it is a hassle in my job. This is part of my identity now anyway. I figure I will change it again when I get married- what's the rush now?

Today, I was given a nickname. Well, really the proposal of a nickname. And then a few nicknames were tried (and failed). Which started a discussion of nicknames...  I voiced my opinion about them in general, but decided maybe it was time to loosen up a little.

I said as long as it wasn't something obnoxious, or an inanimate object. Or Ferret. Definitely not Ferret.

Names are funny- for things in general.  We assign things, animals, and people names because we give them meaning.  We have different names for the same things, often because we view them from different perspectives, and call them different things (according to functions and such).  Cultures use different names.  Even one person can be considered all of these: wife, mother, daughter, teacher, neighbor, etc...

I was given a name of value when I was born, and I earned the respect that went along with that name.  During a period in my life, I feel that value was definitely taken away (and I definitely lost my name for a while). I guess that's as far as I need to go into that situation for right now, but suffice it to say that I hold a lot of value in naming things and people.  In the same breath, I will also say that I will accept bonds with people, and any random names that may come along with these bonds.  As much as it annoyed me in the past, I realize now I need to meet people half-way, and I really do need to loosen up.

Please don't let it be Ferret...

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