Names are interesting and I have always been interested in names and their meanings. My name at birth, I always loathed. I hated it even more when I asked my mother what it mean and she told me it meant 'Bubble' in German. I remember at five, thinking what sort of name is that and why would you call a daughter 'bubble'. I hated it even more when I looked it up in a book of names and its meaning was set out as 'Barbarian' or 'strange one' or 'stranger.' I hated my name for years so much so that when I went to boarding school I gave myself a nickname 'Jinx' because I felt I had been JINXED by my name. It repulsed me.
Later in 1980 I changed my names around because I much prefered my second name 'Eileen' which means 'desired' or 'light' or 'pleasant'. I was very happy with the name Eileen and only later changed my name completely by deed poll when I became formally Jewish Orthodox and took a Hebrew name Ilana which means tree. It is very similar in some ways to Eileen. So in a way, I feel Ilana is very similar to Eileen and I have always felt very comfortable with Ilana. It fitted me and my personality and who I am.
I never felt comfortable with 'Barbara'. Barbara is fine for Barbara Steinsand or other famous Barbaras like Barbara Cartland etc etc but the name Barbara never fitted me. I always felt happier when people did not refer to me as that name. Ironically, my mother took it as a personal rejection, the fact that I did not like the name. It sort of typified our relationship through out my life. You do not like the name I gave you therefore you have rejected me. I once has a young Israeli girl in a class I was teaching in Israel. She came in and announced that her name was no longer Chagit but it was now Orit ( I actually cannot remember the name she changed it to, but Orit will do for now). I was surprised and asked her after the class why she had changed from Chagit and I started to say, but Chagit is such a lovely name and then I stopped myself. When she had finished I simply said, 'I understand why. You felt for years that your name did not suit who you were?' She looked at me in surprise and said 'Yes. How did you know?' I shrugged and then told her my story about my name and we laughed. Some times parents do get it wrong. The thing is to admit it.
My mother once said to me about six months after the birth of my son,'What sort of name is Nir?' I explained the meaning and then she told me,'AHHH I bet you will scream blue murder if he wants to change his name when he grows up?'
'No,' I replied,'once he grows up and if he honestly does not like the name, I want him to be happy with a name that he feels comfortable with using and being known by.' I mean that. If my child honestly feels not comfortable with the name I gave him at his birth then he should change it to something he feels fits him.
What brought about this post? Well I was in centrelink yesterday and I was asked by one of their clerks 'what name are you using now?'
It lists on my form all my married names and my birth name. I think they think I am into alias and suspect that I have secret names and businesses everywhere.
I have been known only as Ilana Yael Leeds for many years. My birth certificate had for a while Alana Yael because the clerk who transcribed the deed poll made a mistake which I had to pay to get rectified some years afterwards.
That is another thing, there are variations of the same name with spelling. Ilana can be Elana, Alana, Alannah, Ellena, Ilanit, Ilanna, Ellanna and the variations go on and on. It is all in a name, isn't it?
I love names and their meanings. What is the story of your name?