Name: a shortest possible story

Have you ever though about what’s in a name? It’s an abstract word that people call you by. It might not even have a meaning. And yet, names are tremendously powerful.

I’ve come to a realization that a name is a story. It’s a shortest possible story about yourself. Your name is the first gift that you receive in life, and it’s a story about what you mean to the people who brought you into this world. People who have thought up your name started passing it on to other people, and so your story starts getting told and told again, passed on from person to person.

Over time you hear it repeated over and over to you, and eventually realize that this word somehow describes you. You adopt it, and later on in life start introducing yourself by it, essentially saying: ”let me tell you a shortest possible story about myself“.

People close to you want to feel like they are part of your story, so some change it slightly by giving you a nickname. Others who want to hurt you might change your name to something unflattering, hoping that it would erode your self-esteem. After all, our own perception of self heavily relies about the story we believe about ourselves, and the shortest possible story is the one that started it all.

A part of growing up is seizing control over this story. Even though we understand that our first story helped us think of ourselves as a person, we tend to push against or break the confines of how we see ourselves and what we think others expect from us. You might choose a different name for yourself. You might even choose different names for different occasions. If you wanted to disappear and reinvent yourself, you would start using a completely different name altogether. A fresh start requires a new story.

So, the next time someone introduces you to someone else, think of that interaction as passing on the story of what you mean to them. And when someone answers ”that’s a beautiful name,“ you’re off to a great start.