February 25, 2013

As a student, Lillian longed for a youthful sounding name

It took many years to grow into her first name

By LILLIAN SMITH HANDLEMAN
Class of 1962

When I was in school I didn't like my name. I longed to be a Kathy or Debbie or something youthful sounding. Every Lillian I ever heard of was someone's grandma.

I realize now that I had to grow into my name and now I like it--Lillian Ruth, my Irish grandmother's name, a name of significance. Now I have grandkids with their own unusual names that I also like. I appreciate that those names have personal meaning for the parents who chose them as unique to their child.

I have no problem with unusual names. It's the fact that some new age names eventually become trendy and in the process, get hijacked, shortened, and misspelled into the mainstream. My daughter had an original, nearly unheard of name when I chose it 44 years ago--Micaela, the feminine form of Michael, her father's name. It was an alternative to the more common "Michelle", and it was unique then.

Today there are countless copied versions of "Micaela" chosen by parents who have butchered the spelling of that beautiful name into phonetically structured variants: Mikayla, Makala, and Cayla, to name a few. 

Although a "Rose" by any other name would smell as sweet (thanks, Shakespeare), I think we all struggle to distinguish ourselves in some way as we integrate into society. Our name becomes a big part of our identity as we get older and parents should choose thoughtfully before they dilute a lovely name with crazy spellings and assign it to their child exposing them to the ridicule of those who may poke fun.
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This story is in response to the previous post, "New fangled names for babies drive me wild."

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