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I love my name.

I got my ears pierced a while back, and I promise this back-story ties into the overall theme of this post.
My ears were already pierced, but I wanted a second hole in each ear, mostly because I always loved the way it looked on my mother. My then-fiance and I were out and about on a random weekday, and I just decided to take the plunge. Since I was essentially asking someone to jam a couple holes into my body, they made me fill out and sign a waiver - naturally. I signed my name like I normally would: First name, Middle Name, Last name. To anyone else but me, it probably looks like I'm doing the most with my signature, but I'm used to it, so it's no big deal. I have people in my life who address my by my first name, and there are others who use my middle name. When it's time for me to sign something, I just write the whole thing out. 

J clearly though I was doing the most, and after all this time together finally decided to ask why I always felt the need to sign my entire name. "Sometimes it's like you don't like your first name." He actually said those words to me. If I had a set of pearls around my neck I would've clutched them, because I couldn't believe he thought that - let alone said it. I got defensive. I love my first name! This whole site is centered around my name. It's uncommon, short, sweet and it fits me well: Disa.

HOWEVER...

As mentioned on my "about" page, it is often mispronounced, even after I've slowly (and respectfully) corrected the error. "It's a long 'i,' like you're rolling a set of dice, with an 'a' at the end." I've said that phrase so many times I probably mumble it in my sleep. Still, people have trouble with it. It's understandable. I don't trip out about it. I roll with it. Most people's brains default to forgetting it, instead of committing the correct enunciation to memory, and this got annoying throughout grade school, so by the time I got to college, I started going by my middle name: Chantel. It's fairly simple to pronounce and I never have to say it multiple times when introducing myself to strangers. I just drop the name and keep rolling. I love this name as well. My father picked it out and originally wanted it as my first name, but my mom vied for Disa, and of course she won because a happy wife is a happy life.

If I could physically pull the names 'Disa' and 'Chantel' close and hug them, I would. I wear them well, and if I'm being honest, it was quite difficult to let go of my maiden name after getting married. I also wore that name well. But, there I was, writing out my soon-to-be new surname on our marriage license, realizing I was really about to drop the name my late father had given me. It felt like I was burying part of myself. For a few days I had even decided to keep that last name as a second middle name, but I eventually relented and removed it altogether. 

The whole name-change process didn't make things easier. Between the DMV, the Social Security Administration, my credit union, various utility companies, and more, I've been running around town with my marriage certificate in hand trying to get my new name on all my official documents. It's been enough to make me wish I would've kept my maiden name, and it still feels strange everytime someone calls me 'Mrs.' It's like I'm going through some sort of identity crisis regarding my last name, and all this is happening just about a month after I was accused of not liking my first name. BY THE WAY, J goes by his middle just as much - if not more - than I do. (insert pot & kettle idiom here).

Have I lost/confused anybody yet? I have more thoughts:

For much of her life, my mother thought her first name was Bernita. Well into adulthood, she obtained a copy of her birth certificate and found out her name first name was scribed as 'Mary Bernita.' This means she technically has two first names, but people love to shorten it to just 'Mary,' no matter how slowly (and respectfully) she corrects the error. Imagine if people shortened Mary Kate Olsen's first name to just Mary. It's not the same. Even though she still goes by 'Bernita' with friends and family, seeing her birth certificate gave her a better understanding of her given name, and that's super important in my opinion.

People often ask what my first name means, and after I answer, I sometimes return the question. Most times they're stumped, especially if their name is more common. It's as if I'm expected to know what my name means since they're never heard it before, but it doesn't matter what their name means since lots of other people have that same name. I think everyone should know the meaning behind their name(s) and embrace it! Your parents picked it for a reason. If you don't like it, you have every right to pick a new one to love and cherish - go for it! (speaking for U.S. citizens only. not sure how the name-changes logistics work in other countries) We have to hear our name countless times each day, so it should definitely be a good fit.

Okay, I've gone on long enough about this subject. I actually have more I could say (like about how people feel the need to name their cars) (mine is blue belle) (or about nicknames) (or about how names from other cultures aren't embraced nearly as much as they could/should be in this country), but I'll leave it here. I know I say this a lot, but if you actually read all of this, THANK YOU.

<end>


*the exact day i wrote and scheduled this post, Joanna from A Cup of Jo posted a piece on this same subject! I almost decided not to post it, thinking there was no need if the content is already out there, but I spent too much time typing it out for it to go to waste... check out her post here.

Comments

  1. I'm Nigerian and there is a story behind all of our names. I mean they actually have a naming ceremony where they perform all these rituals using things like salt, water, sugar, oil to bless the child because all of these products hold significance. I have a crap ton of middle names, but on my birth certificate, It's Sehude Oluwakemisinuola (yep, thats a crap load of letters), but there is a meaning behind each one. I have an obsession with name meanings and I love telling people about mines. I love your name and it's beautiful.

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    1. Thank you! This is something I love about Nigerian names. The name itself kinda demands respect, and it takes time to pronounce. Like if someone is going to properly address you, there's no way they could just breeze by you. Do you sign you whole name? I imagine it took a long time to fill out those bubbles on your SATs!

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    2. My name on my passport and everything other than my birth certificate is Julianah Sehude Ajose. I pretty much hated my whole name. I didn't understand why my parents insisted on adding a (H) behind Julianah, so I came up with Jully. Filling out those bubbles on SATs was a pain in my ass. I use to get annoyed and I even told my parents that when I turned 18, I'm changing my name to Jully Ajose. Anyway, long story short, being an *adult* makes you appreciate the smallest things and so now, I do sign my whole name.

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  2. I adore your name Disa and totally feel you on always having your name being mispronounced. As a kid, I used to hate my name because of that so much so that I didn't like the 1st day of school when the teacher did a roll call. My mom still remembers and reminds me of the time I walked up to her as an 8 year old and saying, "When I turn 18 I'm going to change my name to Sonya." (Because everyone can pronounce Sonya?) Obviously, alot of time has passed since then and I've grown to truly love my name and have more patience when it comes to how other people pronounce it. But I totally agree that everyone should know what their name means regardless of how common it is. Our names are an essential part of who we are.

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    1. OMG, roll call was the worse! Then it always took the teachers/professors like a week or two to remember how to pronounce it, haha. I love your name as well! It just rolls off the tongue. Setarra... BEAUTIFUL!

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