What’s in a Name? How Does Your Given Name Represent and Define You?

For me, it has been Susan/Sue/Susie at the various times in my life. Why the changes? When do you grow into the name that is really you?

When listening to a webinar the other day I had an epiphany.

The speaker was saying something which triggered me to go off on my own musings. It was around the subject of names; the titles we give to ourselves and things and the implicit interpretation this brings.

I was christened Susan – a very straightforward name chosen by my mother as she had taught a good little girl by that name, whom she liked, so thus it was settled: Susan. In Hebrew it means Lily and is representative of the lilies of the field and on learning this I immediately felt beautiful. However, it is a very sober sounding name befitting a good little girl…

Then I became a teenager.

My generation were possibly in the front line of teenagers as our ancestors had been too engaged with the necessities of life, war, and keeping body and soul together to enjoy the pleasures of youth. A hundred years earlier 8- and 9-year old children had been sent out to work for the overall good of the family.

So, here I am a teenager. Susan is not a very teenage name I must have decided, and so I became Sue to my friends. Only my parents and extended family would call me Susan now.

With the change of name came a change of attitude. Things that the good Susan would have found difficult to do were now a sure thing for me. Rebellious? Certainly. And as I reflect back, I am amused by the silly things that teenage me thought were ‘cool’ and – trust me – I’m not about to share any of them as it would seriously dent my credibility.  But we’ve all been there as I’m sure you’ll also recall. 🙂

The next stage of life was when I met Albert, my soul-mate and the man I had been married to since 1970. Somehow I sensed that Sue was no longer fitting me… and very self-consciously I became Susie. What do I mean by that? Well, I think it sounds softer, and more fun – has a lighter touch maybe – and I wanted to be this new person with my future husband.

I didn’t “own” the name to start with; I had to grow into it. Albert was the one who had initially called me that, and when he introduced me to his friends this was the name he used. Gradually, and certainly since marriage, I have become Susie.

It is remarkable looking back at the three stages of my life so far how each name has been fitting for the moment. The good child, the rebellious teenager, and the ‘getting to be more mature’ woman (and even after all these years I don’t really want to be that grown up!). Each incarnation was/is real and each takes on its own personality.

The Susie I have grown into is allegedly mature, has a great sense of humour, and really likes to have fun whilst ensuring that contribution as a value is a very important part of my life. I now own my name in a very real way. Each part of my life has contributed to the me I am today – the making of a real and complex person. Like me, you will have experienced this journey to a lesser or greater degree depending on where you are on life’s journey.

I’m sharing these musings to see how you might interpret this in your own life. How relevant is this for you? What do you feel you have grown into, that has made you the person you have become? How are your thoughts limiting or growing yourself?

I hope this will stimulate your own thinking.  Is this ringing any bells for you?

Do you own your name or does it own you? And what difference does it make in your life?

Let me know how this triggered memories for you and what you are now able to do with them as a result of identifying the reasons, the meanings, and where they originate.

I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to visit me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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