What's In a Name?

I have always been someone who is fascinated by names. When I was much younger, I used to entertain myself by making lists of names I liked, names for my future husband and kids (Mr. C's name was not on any of those lists!), names for pets, names of people I knew. When I was really bored, I would sometimes look through the phone book for really silly or weird names. Perhaps this is a strange fixation, but I am not alone. There is even a label for people who are fascinated by names: onamamania. Google "fascination with names" and see how many times this comes up. So even if I'm weird, I'm not weird alone.

I am sure this stems from my early childhood.

From as far back as I can remember, I despised my birth name. It felt ugly and awkward, not at all who I perceived myself to be. For anyone else, it is a perfectly fine name, and I have had many friends and acquaintences throughout my life who have been given this name as well. But it wasn't me. I was pretty angry and resentful as a child and, looking back, I think having the wrong name contributed to my overall lack of self-esteem.

In the summer between 8th grade and high school, when crazy hormones and 13-year old angst were at their peak, my friend (who also hated her name) and I decided to rebel against our parents by changing our names. I had a great-aunt named Katie. She had passed away before I was born, so I never knew her, but she had a reputation in her family as mischievous and fun-loving. This was the name I wish my parents had chosen for me, it felt right and it matched my inner view of who I am. Much more well-suited than the dignified, serious name they stuck me with. And so that day, my true self was born and I became Katie.

I went home and announced to my mom that I was changing my name. This announcement was, I'm sure, made with lots of nasty teenage attitude. I was just waiting for her to challenge me so I could launch into a full-fledged snit-fit. But, to my complete surprise, she agreed that my personality was definitely a "Katie" personality instead of the name I had been given. She started calling me Katie that very day and my siblings soon after. My dad had a harder time with it. Sometimes he called me Katie but more often, it was the original name. He is the only person I let get away with this.

And I started high school a couple of months later and introduced myself to all of my new friends and teachers as "Katie". It was that easy. It helps that it is kind of close to my original name that most people never question it, although it is not a nickname of my original name. I have never changed it legally, and while the original name is on a very small number of the important official documents, my chosen name is on many others. A couple of times, I have been asked for clarification, but I am continually surprised at how easy it has been to go through life with 2 different first names.

It is amazing the immediate impact this had on my personality and self-esteem. I became much more confident and outgoing. For the first time in my life, it was easier to make friends. And I began to like myself, which I had not done before. As a psychologist, I am now aware of the fact that our names can have a significant impact on how others perceive us. It makes me sad to think there may be lots of kids out there who feel this way, but never think that they have the power to change their names, unless they have the kind of name that comes with some decent choices of nicknames.

In the cyber world, we have a chance to choose any name we wish to be called. And it makes sense to have an alias. For instance, I have 4 different email accounts - the only one in my "real" name is the one associated with my practice. Then there is the one I use for ravelry and this blog, the one I use for secret swaps and the one I use when signing up for things where I might end up on a spam list. When I first created my blog, I wanted a place to share thoughts and ideas and a few personal aspects of my life without it showing up when my name was googled. So I borrowed Miss Criquette's name since the others I tried first had already been taken. She says she doesn't mind, as long as I don't do anything to embarass her or her fellow felines.

"This is NOT what we agreed on..."

"That's it, name-stealer! You'll be hearing from my cat-torney on this!"

"Okay, that's more like it. All pictures must show my cuteness at it's best."

(And just for the record, because when I have met a couple of my blogging pals, they did not know that the correct pronunciation is actually "cricket", like the insect. For cultural purposes, I Cajunized the spelling when we adopted her.)

So as you can see, we here at Criquette-world like alternate names. And I ran across something in a forum post on ravelry that is so much fun!!!! I had to share it with you. It is an alternate name generator. You can use it to create a new identity for yourself. You could use it to create crazy names for secret swaps and safe email addresses. Heck, you could even find the name of the "real you" that is hidden inside, just waiting to be released!

When I typed in my first and last name, here is a sample of what I got:

a city ukelele
cake lite yules
tease lucky lei
lacy lee sue kit
ictus la lee key
cute lea lei sky

These are sort of silly and upbeat, like me. Now compare these to my original name:

lunacy sleeker
scaly knee rule
acne seller yuk
ankle securely

Clearly, words and phrases that are Just Not Fun. Now we can see why I subconsciously did not want to be stuck with this.

Finally, let's look at the original Criquette's name:

cutely cirque steel (Addi's?)
celery cut see quilt
query lettuce slice
quest cute lyric lee

Many of her anagrams made no sense to a human, but perhaps would speak more clearly to other cats. But still, we can see from her anagrams that she is a cute, quirky little character.

Do you want to share in the fun? Click on over to the
name anagram generator. Then tell us, what's in your name?