There are four kinds of names that members of the human race have a problem remembering. Long names, that is, names consisting of more than three syllables; short names, that is, names consisting of less than three syllables; names that are common; and names that are rare. If your name is longer than seven letters then people feel that it’s their duty to shorten it for you, Nompumelelo becomes ‘Mpumi’ or ‘Lelo’ or even just ‘No’.
If having a long name is tough then I can assure you, having a short name is even tougher. There is a special part of the brain where short names are stored and then randomly retrieved. So if you tell someone your name is ‘Zandi’ it will automatically be filtered into the short name database and the next time you meet them they might call you ‘Sihle’ or ‘Thandi’ or some other random two syllable name that they decide on.
Having a common name provides a different kind of problem. If your name is Tracy it may as well be Stacy; if it’s Amy then content yourself with being called Nicky. Faith? Tendai? Ruth? Just get comfortable Her because that’s all anyone’s ever going to call you, it’s all the same to them.
Can we please have a moment of silence for all my people with rare names? This is you if you’re someone who went through her whole school career without having met even one person with the same name. Your name has been butchered beyond recognition and you’ve grown tired of pronouncing and re-pronouncing it for people,
Person: Hi, Chegofesto.
You: It’s Tshegofatso. Tshe – go- fa-tso.
The struggle is real. And after spending decades defending the integrity of your name it doesn’t feel right that your name has to be subsumed in the Mrs So-and-So title. Where’s the justice?! How come men don’t have to change their last names? Why should male privilege prevail?
It’s funny how women can get so worked up about having to change their last names for a man and yet be so complacent about having to change something more important- their identity.
Your identity is not supposed to shift depending on the man you’re with and yet it does.
This is deeper than changing your name to his. It’s deeper than wearing a weave because he doesn’t like natural hair. And it’s deeper than pretending you like soccer for his sake. This is about your fundamental belief that you have to be something else other than yourself to be acceptable to him.
Along the way you will meet many men who will tempt you. They will tempt you to be an imposter. They will tempt you to forsake your true identity and embrace a false identity. They’ll make you believe that you are not good enough. They’ll convince you that you have to conform to his idea of a good woman. They’ll confuse you and manipulate you into believing the lie that you have to work to be loved.
When you meet this kind of guy you must correct him. Make it clear that his case is one of mistaken identity and he needs to keep walking. And then you run. Run for your life. Because if you don’t you’ll spend the rest of your life working to be the perfect woman for him. Compromising yourself and who God made you to be; confused about where he ends and you begin; stuck in a crisis of identity.
“Define yourself as one radically loved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” Brennan Manning
Woman, guard your identity jealously. One day you could find a man who knows who you are and reminds you when you forget. Who knows, he could be the man you’re willing to change your name for.