First, let's go with the fun stuff: nicknames! Here are nicknames I've had.
*Big Mama (from a foreign friend--I told him I wasn't thrilled with that one even though he said it was a huge compliment)
I love kind nicknames, because it gives me a sense of belonging to/with the person/group who has given me the nickname. There's also always a story (or more) behind every nickname, and it creates a particular bond within a relationship.
Then there is my actual name. I have a first, middle, and last name. For internet privacy reasons, I have not used my first name on this blog. But if you know me, then you know my name. :-) And you might be able to guess it otherwise. My first name came about because my mother loved the book it came from, and because my dad lived twice then served his mission in Germany. In all honesty, if I could pick my own first name, I don't think I would pick what is mine. Not that I don't like it. It's just one of those things when you step back and think of something you are so familiar with, it almost seems surreal. Once in a while it rather surprises me that my first name is what it is. Yes, I know. Bizarre. I am a definite oddity, the like of of which you may never meet another. And I'm tired. So I'm sure I'm rambling every way possible.
My mother told me that my middle name came about because we had a lot of one name on Mom's side of the family, and a lot of another name on the Dad's side. So they took the two names and combined them to form my middle name. I have loved my middle name mostly for that reason. And I always liked how all 3 names flowed together. As a child, I signed my full name whenever possible. I loved it! And then one devastating day, I learned that when girls marry, they typically take on the husband's last name--and that was often why most females were never given a middle name because their maiden name would become their middle. I hated that idea. I loved all 3 of my names. I was told I could choose if I wanted to drop my middle or my last name. I didn't want to drop either! But I noticed that around that time, I stopped signing my full name.
It was some time before at least my middle initial creeped back in to the signatures, but even then that was just for official purposes. But it was niggling at me--that middle name was important. It was a part of who I was. And my last? It speaks volumes of who I am. And as it has been my last name for a lot longer than I had hoped it would be, I certainly don't ever want to drop it. And why should I have to drop either when all 3 names are used in every blessing I've received and on all official, legal documentation? It makes sense to add on my husband's name, even if 4 names does seem pretentious.
Then in college, I started to make a lot of acquaintances and friends who went by two names. I liked the sound of that. Started to wonder if I could go by both. On one move to a new place, I almost started. But my best friend lived there at the time and I didn't know if I could convince him to help me go by both (especially when my friend his sister started to go by two names in college and he only calls her by one). When I moved back here, I was determined that I would switch to two-name status. For a few reasons:
*I liked the sound of my name that way. I always had.
*I like the two-name sound. My niephews call me by two names (Aunt + First Name). At work I'm called by my kids and teens by two names (Miss + First Name). Two names just sound well to me.
*I could finally honor my ancestry and love of family history work by using my middle name
*It is a nod to my southern girl beginnings
*There are SO many girls where I live now who have the same first name. I would like to distinguish myself from them.
*I actually think my middle name by itself is kind of ugly, and reminds me of others I've known in this life who I don't have the most pleasant memories of. I don't want to go by it alone.
*Now going by two names, when it comes time to add my husband's name to mine, then my maiden name can become the middle. Easy solution! :-)
In 2004, Sharon G. Samuelson said, "Each of our names represents who we are. We become known by our name to all with whom we associate. Our reputation or the opinion generally held of us is always inextricably linked to our name. Yes, our name and reputation are inseparable....To have an unspotted name and reputation is of greater value than all the wealth one could acquire in a lifetime." She also referred to a few other stories related to what some people in history and scripture did with the names that they have received.
In 2010, Elder Mervyn Arnold also spoke about what we do with our names. His main message was the same as one of Sister Samuelson's points: that in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we take on the name of our Savior. What have we done with His name? What am I doing with His name? How does taking on His name affect me? It has influenced my decisions. It helps me want to deserve His name. And it gives me a great responsibility, for every day I want my Savior to see that I have kept it unspotted and that I am still worthy to be called by His name.
I think Anne was right when she disagreed with Shakespeare: "I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage." (Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery). I don't think I'd be who I am without the name my parents blessed me with, because that name makes me who I am. But more importantly, the Savior's name--which I have covenanted to take upon me--is the greatest influence in helping me be who I am and who I want to be.