How many of you have a name you dislike? How many of you wished that you’d had the chance to change your name when you were growing up? Many cultures in the world had initiation ceremonies that herald the start of adulthood, and at this time, a new name was bestowed upon the young person. But we don’t have this custom in countries with European traditions.
Sometimes it is obvious why someone might want to change their name. How would you feel if your parents called you Zowie Bowie, Dandelion, Dweezil or even Talulah Does A Hula From Hawaii? Others of us are stuck with names that, on the surface, seem fine.
“I hate my name,” one pharmacist told me.
“What is it?” I enquired, as I took my prescription from him.
“Jim,” he replied, investing that one syllable with all the loathing he could muster.
In my case, I was called Sally. I started hate that name when I was about eleven years old.
I still think Sally is a pretty name for a little girl, but that’s just the trouble: To me that name has little-girl all over it as if it were outlined in cute little blinky-blinky lights. At the age of eleven, I knew I hated my name, but had no idea what to call myself instead.
So I put up with it.
Several years later, when I married again, I had the opportunity to change my name. By that time I was going around with my first husband’s family name and my second husband-to-be naturally wanted me to do something about it. Faced with the opportunity of changing my name, I decided to change ALL of it. But what to call myself? I agonized over this during one night of insomnia finally deciding that the name had to start with an s sound that mimicked the way my original name of Sally had started. But of course, it didn’t have to be spelled with an s. I finally settled on the name Cynthia.
As someone who was turning into an older woman, I really needed a name that conveyed dignity. The three syllables of Cynthia give it a gravitas that Sally can’t possibly have.
I had no idea what a burden the name Sally had been until I stopped using it.
–Cynthia Haggard (formerly Sally Bogacz) writes short stories, novels and poetry. During the day, she is a medical writer and owns her own business. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts. (c) 2009. All rights reserved.