Monday, April 25, 2011

Naming Rights

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."

- says Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

What is in a name? I have one of those first names that is unique, pretty, and often difficult for anyone to pronounce on the first try. In fact, it often takes many times for people to get it right. 

As a child, the first day of school was always a hoot.  My teachers never got it right and since they had to remember so many other names I let it go.  Honestly, I just got tired of correcting them.

So, I assumed my new first name of  "Lisa".  But in high school, Lisa was often a doormat with a small group of treasured friends.  Lisa allowed herself to be picked on endlessly by others; never standing up for herself and thinking that this was her place on the food chain forever.

Back then, I accepted it. But, after I graduated high school, it was a different story.  The idea of a fresh start appealed to me.  College was my chance to reinvent myself.  My first order of business was to insist that everyone call me by my proper name.  I politely corrected people as many times as it took and to my surprise they caught on.

Perhaps, there was something about my insistance -and persistance- that made me feel like a grown up.  I was finally taking charge of my identity & my life.  I would no longer accept other people's version of who I was and started to be true to myself.

In college, Elisa was confident and even attractive with plenty of friends and admirers.  Elisa laughed and lived as loudly as she had always wanted to.  And she never looked back. 

Since then, in every job I've ever held and  with each person I come in contact with - I introduce myself as Elisa.

Today, people still call me Lisa and other versions of my name and that's okay too. My husband calls me "Lis" (with the i sounding like a long e) which is particularly special to me.  All of this takes me back to the above quote.  Shakespeare had it right - "What's in a name?" That which we call Lisa or Elisa or Lis - would I still smell as sweet? Of course I would! In the grand scheme of life, the most important thing of all is that I get to be myself - which is all I ever wanted anyway.

This is a post for the prompt from The Red Dress Club website that asked us to recall something in
your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.


  1. I remember hating my name as a child because I could never find it on a pencil case or eraser or Lisa Frank binder during back-to-school shopping. "Miranda" just wasn't a name that you saw everywhere.

    Over time I came to realize it's also not a name that's easily forgotten :)

    Glad you found the beauty in your name. (And it IS a beautiful name!)

  2. You took us down a path here- sharing so very much of your story.

    I can so relate to the name dilemma. I'm glad that you insisted on proper pronunciation in college.

    And for the record, Lis sounds lovely!

  3. I would've been so annoyed! I have a friend named "Elise" and hers is mispronounced all over the place.

    I'm glad you found your true self!

  4. Names are so personal. I've had a long history with my own name...which recently inspired a post with a fictional character who also insists on which version of her name she prefers.

    I wonder if as parents, those of us who struggled with this will be a little more understanding if (and/or when) our own children take control of their own names...

  5. Good for you! Isn't it amazing how much our names really do mean to us. They identify us. Though you have become comfortable with the different versions, you needed that time when you took your true name back.

  6. I like how the differnt versions of your name are equated with versions of yourself.

    I did the same thing with my name. My nickname always sounded so childish to me. I've always hated it, so as an adult I've insisted on my proper name.


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