What is in a name?

Some of us have three, some four or more: a first, a sur, possibly hyphenated from two, and maybe a middle or middles. However long, that name becomes your identity from when you are born or the moment you assume that name. You answer to it, introduce yourself with it, and brand yourself by it. Your name becomes the so-and-so people talk highly, or lowly, about (“have you heard about so-and-so?”), you don’t want to tarnish it, and you do everything you can to protect it.HelloGrowing up, I hated my name, Alison (sorry, mum). None of the popular older girls in my school shared that name, there were no pretty celebrities named Alison, the only popular Alison was Buffy’s sidekick, Willow, and she didn’t even spell it like me so that didn’t count. Plus, she wasn’t the beautiful badass vampire slayer, she was the character that provided comedic relief, and to preteen Alison, humour was not an attractive trait I wanted associated with my name. In 1990, Alison was listed as the 347th most popular name for girls – how was I ever going to be popular with a name that was so far from cool? (I bet you can guess the most popular girl name in 1990 – I always knew my lil’ sis was way more popular than me, and this stat just proves it!) Fast-forward thirty years (gasp), and I can proudly say, I love my name, it just had to grow on me.

So, what is in a name? Names humanize a person, and are a crucial part of a person’s existence. After recently binge-watching Fleabag on Prime (if you haven’t watched the show, then you’re later to the party than I am, and need to do so asap), I was curious as to why some characters were left unnamed, such as Fleabag, the Godmother and the Priest. I was also questioned whether or not her friend “Boo” was actually her real name, or a ghostly trait of the friend that haunts her memory. I am interested in hearing the thoughts from those that watched the show on why viewers are not privy to these characters’ names, yet are invited in on Fleabag’s inner, most secretive thoughts. By not giving someone a name is a way to keep them at a distance, to not  get too attached to them, think Holly Golightly and Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. By not saying someone’s name is to remove the power they may have over others, think He Who Must Not Be Named from the popular, and much loved, Harry Potter series. My argument on why these characters are nameless is that they are everyone, they are not just one person – Fleabag is not only a Jessica, Alison, Claire or Boo, that character is everyone – all of us are Fleabag. Same with the Priest and Godmother. The personalities and actions the Priest, Godmother and Fleabag exude are real and raw human behaviours and actions that we all experience and commit.

Which leads me to ask, why are we (women) asked to change our name after we have spent x-amount of years claiming it as ours? As some readers may know, I recently married my person, and with that, comes the name change, which is a decision I’ve been struggling with – my last name defines me, it’s who I am and I’m scared that I will lose a piece of myself once I give it up / replace it with that of my husband’s. The easy solution is to hyphenate our last names, but that mouthful will eat up 22 spaces, not easily fitting in any box that requires one to write their surname. Add to that all of the paperwork that needs to be completed, the updating of accounts, the changing of email addresses. Oy, bring on the headache and the martini. Needless to say, all of this leaves me in a name conundrum. Again, I pose the question, what is in a name? Simply put, a lot.

A long-winded social media ramble

I don’t know how many hours I waste each week mindlessly scrolling through social media to gather news, stay up-to-date on long lost friends’ daily happenings, or daydream of far away locales, fancy outfits, and home décor. I, like many, am guilty of using these sites to only show a certain perfect part of who I am. Hidden from public scrutiny are tweets of my screw-ups at work, unexpected front facing camera selfies (yikes), or long-winded posts of the current state of the dizzying disarray my head is currently in right now. No one wants to hear or see that, or maybe that is my own insecurity telling me to keep the disorganized hidden for fear of judgment from outsiders. But isn’t that the point of social media, letting the outside world in, to an extant. We all want to live this picture-perfect life that we’ve somehow forgotten how to actually live a genuine life. We communicate in acronyms, emojis and slang through mediums that have begun to define us that we no longer know how to have meaningful face-to-face conversations.

A couple of weekends ago, I devoured My Friend Anna, a ridiculous story about a young woman who fooled people into believing that she was a German heiress, was able to scam businesses, and conned the one girl who believed to be her friend, Rachel DeLoache Williams, the author of the story.  A few days after, I stumbled upon the story of Caroline Calloway, another absurd story of an egomaniac, and I couldn’t help but think – is this what we have become in this digital age of constant life sharing? Nothing is authentic and genuine, and because of this, we no longer have the ability to differentiate the real from fake. It’s as if we are in this constant need to prove ourselves to others that we look to the  number of likes and followers we have gained through our beautifully styled grids, which obviously can only mean that we all have our shit together, for reassurance.

Our lives have become highly curated tiles that we will pay money to capture an incredible Instagrammable moment for others to see, or have mastered the monetization of that perfectly poised look by representing brands in a square shaped image, brands one may not believe in, but who cares, they’re paying money, right? Then, we anxiously wait to see the likes roll in that we forget to experience the moment, to live in the moment, and to just accept the moment as is.

Maybe we all want to make beautiful things, and we do this through styling a beautiful picture? Maybe we all want to be viewed as perfect, and we do this by posting that perfect image. And maybe we all want human connection, but instant connection, not something we have to build, we want it right away, and we do this by following and liking, but that’s as far as we’ll go.

However, on the other hand, there is also a lot of good that can be found on these platforms. It has opened the window into landscapes one may never visit personally, started the dialogue with people one may never have the opportunity to converse with, it has made us more aware of what is happening globally, introduced us to new people, and put smiles on our faces – if you don’t follow Tiny Chef or Simon’s Cat, please do so asap.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to get at here, but what I do know is that we have started comparing our lives to something unattainable, we mindlessly live life through a filtered lens, and we spend hours scrolling that we are unaware of what is happening IRL, unless we’ve just seen a livestream of it through our devices. Maybe it’s time for us to step back for a second and just be present and content with life as is, undocumented and unfiltered. Or maybe, it’s time for me to do that?

The irony is not lost on me as I shamelessly share this post on social media, hoping that the title is clickbait-able enough to entice readers. And I should share that this article is me pointing the finger at myself, as I am so guilty of the social media post, like, tweet craze.

8F2A85F4-391F-42DB-9A0C-67BCF2D99C6D
It’s okay to not be perfect.