“Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behavior.”

I am taking an EDLF class through the Curry School that requires weekly reflections and short paper assignments. One of our first assignments was to write our name story. I wasn’t sure how to go about this; my name, though how I identify myself, I don’t necessarily identify with. Haley. No “i”, one “y,” no clue.

nametag Haley

“Well, I wanted to name you Lauren,” is what my Dad told me when I asked about my name. For some reason, I never felt like a Lauren, so I’ve always been secretly happy that my Mom got the final say. Plus, Lauren Morgan Bryant didn’t sound quite right to me. The last name wasn’t going anywhere (honestly, with the Lakers winning the playoffs this year I wouldn’t want it to) and my middle name in honor of my Uncle Morgan was also staying put, so my forename had to go. “Haley,” my Mom said. “It just felt right.” It still does.

When I was a little girl, adults always gave me nicknames. My best friend’s mom Deborah called me “Hayley’s Comet,” my mom’s best friend Kathleen called me “Little Miss Muffet,” and at preschool I was known as “Hale Bop.” These nicknames annoyed me to no end; I am HALEY, plain and simple. My blatant dismay extinguished these nicknames after awhile. As I grew older, I found that, for some reason, no one could spell my name correctly. “Dear, is that H-A-I-L-E-Y or H-A-Y-L-E-Y?” “Neither,” I would say. “It’s H-A-L-E-Y, plain and simple.” I still haven’t outgrown my indignation over people’s inability to spell my name right. Whether friends are writing on my Facebook wall or professors are replying to an email, spelling my name how they feel it should be spelled instead of how it is spelled n the screen in front of them grates on me. I am not some anonymous “H-A-Y-L-E-Y, taken from the name H-A-L-E-Y,” I am H-A-L-E-Y. In my college years, I have grown to like nicknames. Cynthia calls me “Hay,” my roomies call me “Hales,” my sister calls me “Big Spoon.” I embrace them as terms of endearment rather than of condescension.

I’m told that Haley means “hero.” I saved that for last because I don’t feel like the heroine of anyone’s story. It sounds so valiant, triumphant, the ultimate conqueror of the forces of evil. I’m not a ghostbuster or a dragon slayer. I have not lifted anyone out of poverty or saved a drowning cat. The literal interpretation of my name does little for me, and doesn’t make me feel any more or less a Haley. I’m just me. Plain and simple.

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