I toyed with sharing this fun fact because it is so personal and is surrounded by pain. But like my Boldness in the Face of Anxiety post, I have a feeling I’m not alone. So, if this helps one person, it’s worth any judgement that may come…
It’s not uncommon for a child to dislike their name growing-up and then appreciate it later in life. For me, it was the opposite, so I legally changed it in 2014. No, Amélie is not my birthname. Actually, my given name was fairly common, ordinary, even, but that’s not why I changed it.
I never had a problem with my name until the latter part of second grade. Actually, I always hoped for someone else in my class to have the same first name so I could have my last name initial attached to it (I was never so lucky). We were doing a unit on family and family trees, and one day, my teacher asked us how our parents picked our names.
Several kids raised their hands and said, “The Bible.” My name being in the Bible, I followed suit, excited to be a part of it all. That afternoon, I ran home from the bus stop and asked my mom to confirm the theory I presented as fact earlier. Much to my disappointment, answer was, “No.”
“We just liked it,” my mom said. That’s it.
“But you and I have the same middle name,” I pointed out.
“Yeah,” my mom said in a no-big-deal kind of way.
I was…confused. I didn’t know how to process this information. The fact that no thought was put into, what was meant to be, my lifelong identity other than “We just liked it,” crushed me. No Bible. No special story. Just…“We liked it,” with a same-as-mom-middle-name thrown in as an afterthought.
That was the beginning of my disdain for my birthname. It didn’t help when years later, I learned that by first and middle names combined meant, “bitter meadow.” Wow, if the indifference alone wasn’t bad enough, add on a sucky meaning.
High school came, and with it, bouts of depression, low self-esteem, and, at times, self-loathing (but that’s another story). As my love for myself dwindled, the revulsion of my name—the one no one bothered to take any care in picking…that had a negative meaning—grew.
By the time I reached adulthood, I internally cringed every time I heard my name called. You can psychologically dissect the reasons why, and I can tell you, it’s not the name itself, or the meaning (truth be told, I probably would’ve felt the same way no matter what actual name I was given). It’s the circumstances by which I received it coupled with the dysfunction that surrounded me growing up.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2014. I complained to Thomas one too many times about how I wished I had changed my name while I was still in college (before I was established in a community). He said, “You know, if you want to change your name, I’ll support you.” And that was the beginning of the end of my birthname.
We combed through names for an entire month before deciding on Amélie as well as a new middle name. Spent all summer testing it out to make sure it’s a good fit (most people, including Thomas, used my new nickname, Amie). That fall, we made it official, and to this day, my only regret is that I didn’t make this leap sooner.
‘Til next time!