Names: Are they ours, or are we theirs?

rembrandt_self_portrait

If Socrates were to join twitter, his manager would advise him to write under the pseudonym “Socration Nation”, not forgetting to add #RealTalk at the end of all his tweets. I’d totally follow him.

And if Plato were to make a career out of his writings, he’d probably have to change his name to “Lil’ Plater”. I’d totally download his music from some pirate, illegal website too.

All of which reminds me of Shakespeare’s famous “What’s in a Name?” quotation in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ”

Would it really? Would a rose still be a rose if it was called a tulip?

A small cousin of mine and myself have been engaging in deep conversations lately. She is determined to change her name. 10 years of age and such determination that reminds me of my own self, when I, like her, wanted to change my name too. Reason being that people cannot seem to grasp the beauty of the name that was so tenderly given to her by her mother. People mispronounce it.

Sounds so terribly trivial, but I am sad to say that I can relate. The fury that rises within me when someone spells my name with an S (it’s with a C!!!) is impossible to translate into mere words.

My 1-year-old sister mutters some chinese and I find out later, to my astonishment, that she was, in fact, attempting to pronounce my name. I always ask my parents, “why have you given me such hard names?”. It’s as if my names are but blank canvases, inviting everyone to come and paint their own pictures and add their own colours to it.

If you think of a Shaniqua, what comes to mind? Surely not the same picture you’d visualize if you thought of Gandhi. And what about Will.I.Am? Why couldn’t he be just William?

Perhaps that’s what a name is. Perhaps it is but a one-way ticket into the bureaucratic world, perhaps a label by which the universe categorizes you, or perhaps, in the most optimistic light, an underestimated important part of you.

Despite all the times people misspell and/or mispronounce my names, I like them.

I’m starting to grow into them. Or maybe they’re starting to grow into me.

What about your name? Are you happy with it or still trying to come up with a signature?

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