Names are funny things. They are important to distinguish a person or thing from others like it in a group.
¨A given name is the part of a personal name that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group who have a common surname.¨Wikipedia
That’s the official Wikipedia description of a first name, but if we are honest it is mostly so much more then just a label to make calling more easy.
Lots of parents go through months of pain and research to find the right name for their offspring.
Some provide the kid with enough middle names to choose from. Some try to honour the family line, choose a name with a deep meaning or calling their kid something strong and hope it is a self fulfilling prophecy in their future.
In mythology names have power. According to practises in folklore, referred to as ‘the Law of Names’, knowledge of a true name allows one to affect another person or being magically. Basically you will have a link to their most inner essence. I do feel like something about that rings within me, but I also don’t think that the name we have been given is our true name. I still believe that theme given to us influences us as we grow up.
And my name has bugged me from my childhood until now. In 2014 I wrote a blog post about Hass and his name. His name means ¨Hate¨ in German, ¨Lettuce¨ in Maltese and is on top of it all the name of an Avocado. However, it is his and he feels like it connects him to his heritage, his past and will serve him right in the future. Today I can’t understand myself anymore – why did the name bother me so much in the past. Was it my own German subconsciousness that just couldn’t stand calling someone I liked so much “hate”? The feeling faded eventually and looking back I can not understand myself nor do I really see the parallel between his name and the German word, spelled and pronounced the same.
This made me think about how others see me because of my name and my own perceived loyalty to a name. I gave it a lot of thought in the past years and talked to a few friends. I was surprised to find quite a few of them had chosen long ago what they want to be called and changed their parents given name to their calling name of choice either informally or some managed to change it legally too. The reasons are just as similar as they are different: Out of dislike for their given name, trauma in childhood, leaving a chapter of their life behind or as an artist name that became more ‘them’ then the other version over time.
Nadja is a bit cumbersome when traveling. I am always asked how to pronounce it, how to spell it and if I am russian/from an arab culture or any other region this name is associated with ‘ and that’s quite a few (have a look at wikipedia for examples of origin or spelling). I dislike it a little less ever since i delved into research a few years ago, but as a kid, my name was only used when I did something wrong. Otherwise my parents had nicknames for me. I delved a bit further into my somewhat irrational dislike for my name. It sounds nice to others, they like the meaning and once in a while its an icebreaker for a conversation, since it is part of several cultures with different meanings and someone always knows someone just spelled different than me. That can be nice.
But I cringe every time someone calls me Nadja. In my school years I got teased a lot – who wasn’t I guess – and my name became even more of a burden. My friends outside of school just called me by my screen name and that worked for me for around 10 years, but no-one wants to call a middle-aged woman ‘Kiss’ or ‘PurrfectFire’. And introductions are rather awkward. I long back to the days that I feel excited or at least nothing.
So, do I just trudge on with a name that makes me cringe for another 40 years only so I won’t disappoint my family or confuse my friends? I decided not to. I don’t want to get rid of my parents given name, but I will investigate my possibilities of adding a middle name legally, wich will be my calling name from now on. Germany is a little strict on names thanks to the name-changinging-law of 1938 (which is another can-of-worms and topic in itself) and for now I will just change my name in my social media presences, mail address and when I introduce myself.
You can still call me Nadja if you prefer. I will keep the name as my first name, but I would prefer Nicky, Nick or Nickola.
And as always, I am open for conversations if you like via chat or give me a call.