The Nature of Names

Names. When asked what the first introduction to our identity is, there is a simple, four-lettered answer. For most, you don't enter this world without a name; no one knows you until you have one, except, perhaps, your parents. It’s the type of branding we readily accept, even after we’re old enough to know we don’t have to. Is your name short? Rolling off the tongue like waves lapping the edge of the neighborhood pond after a 10/10 cannonball. Is it long? With the elegance and grace of a twisting river. Do the syllables rumble over lips, cracking like tectonic plates against one another?

outside beach unsplash

Names are fixtures of who we are. We say them every day — directly to our friends or family, in passing to acquaintances, in conversations about fictional characters. But there’s a strange phenomenon surrounding your name. Even if people say it to you every waking moment, when you say it to someone else, the utterance of it as it falls from your mouth is stuttered. Hilted. It feels strange, does it not? Using those syllables to paint the picture of someone else?

watercolor on envelope Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

So strange that letters threaded together stitch the postage mark of who you are. How odd it would be, then, if that mark was crinkling at the edges, rolling in on itself. It doesn’t quite fit. It’s too short or too long or too many syllables or letters or not enough. It doesn’t stretch out on their lips long enough or it does for too long. It crinkles at the edges, but the paper is hot to the touch and you’re too scared of getting burned to rip it off and put a new one on.

The nature of names is odd. A phenomenon that tells us a name is not just a name, but a reminder of who we are. A badge we are given, but sometimes choose, and wear proudly.