Thursday, 16 May 2013

What's in a Name?

Growing up with a unique name, in relation to where I live, has always been a part of my life.  Growing up with an additional strange enunciation of certain words further compounded the peculiarity of that name.
I've had all types of pronunciations tested out from comparably the same, to completely outlandish, as if they've taken the words and created their own dialect. For the most part it doesn't bother me since I will answer to pretty much anything as long as it is directed to me  (insults don’t count). In fact when it comes to certain individuals I've grown accustomed to their own variation, and if they changed it the sound would be meaningless to my ears.

You see it really isn't the name that makes a person but the assumption of what will follow.

I’ll give a more thorough explanation in a second, but first I feel the need to make a disclaimer that in the unfortunate even of being named after a fruit, commercial product, or a pop star with the initials of “B.S”. or rhyming with “Shady” I cannot help you, but I do know of a few registered psychologists.

For the rest of mankind, who are named after normal, living, breathing people or taken from ancient books, it really doesn't matter if your name has that “catchy alliteration ring to it” or is as grave as the deceased. When someone calls you they’re not saying “Jon, come here” but “Hey brother of mine, you've got to see this, because you will either laugh or cry your eyes out”.

It’s a supposition that’s been proven in the past and will most likely continually to be so. I understand my brother well enough to know what he will find funny, or not, so I call him based on the reaction I know I will receive. We make these type of assessments all of the time when it comes to friends, and family, and even teachers. This is why as a small child the name of the principal will strike fear into your heart, and the name of a loved one soften it.

In a way we've conditioned our minds to expect certain outcomes based on that persons reaction so when we call them it’s with a certain amount of premonition of what’s going to occur next.

The reason I bring it up, is because for the past year I've been called by a drastically different name then the one I was bestowed with. My Chinese name is 美乐(Měilè and I answer to it now intuitively. At first the characters looked harsh and rigid, and there was no connection to lodge it in my mind, but now I see the beauty in (měi) and the happiness in (lè). The strokes become fitting in their place, and it’s as easy on my eyes as a well-loved book.

It’s hard to say what others expect when they call me by this name, since I’m not in their shoes, but I can say what I hope they are anticipating. Perhaps it’s a welcoming smile, and an invitation to sit down.  It could be words of encouragement or a positive spin on the daily routine of life. I've noticed that with my teacher he’s come to expect a well-thought out answer, and proper pronunciation- this is one of the draw backs of suddenly becoming studious, they then expect it constantly.
Regardless of the situation I've come to realize that there’s more being said then just my name. What others are not saying is the confidence they have in me to live up to my set pattern of behavior. Personally this is a bit worrisome, since who knows better than I how inconsistent and fickle my emotions can be?  To have a standard set so high puts me in danger of falling off, yet then again it’s the flip-side of the coin that has the value engraved on it.

From this dizzying new height I’m given the opportunity to go farther, run faster and attain new horizons. Although I’m the type that would like to know the end from the beginning, not knowing doesn't need to stop me from trying. My fears are able to be swallowed up in the resolve for success. I can then, little by little, stick my neck out each day and try to be better. Over a period of time this will become a habit, and then presumably a defining characteristic. Others will notice this, and be drawn to the stability it offers. Then without knowing it, what started out requiring great effort will have become an instinctive part of my nature. 

That is when I’ll know I've triumphed, and be able to answer every expectation my name holds .  

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