Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alternate Universe Names -What's Yours?

Lazing around the other day, my mom casually said her second option to my name was "Rianna" after my father's mother "Seprianna" can imagine my surprise. I could have had the same name as the popstar Rihanna!

The twilight zone theme song popped into my head as I thought of an alternative reality where my friends called me "Rianna" instead of the name I have now. Could your name affect your personality? If you weren't born a Jane or a John but a Janice or a Jonah would that make a difference in how you develop your personality?

Your name is sacred and perhaps how people perceive your name can alter their reaction to you. The name "John" is associated with religious reverence at the same time most people consider it a plain name. Does that mean people would automatically think you are plain? Medical examiners likewise use the name "Jane Doe" for unidentified bodies. Does that mean "Jane" is associated with someone who lacks identity or someone who does not stand out? The same goes for other names like "Bob" or "Joe" because the name may lack outward character EVEN IF the name may mean something personally (like the name of a loved one).

My mom told me of an old wives tale in the Philippines. When a baby is born he or she is automatically assigned an "ambiguous spirit", which is sort of considered our "aura" in western terms. If the baby is continuously sick it means the spirit born with the baby is weak and unable to protect the baby from harm. Hence, the family calls on the village witch doctor. They bring the baby to a large old tree where the doctor swings a "bolo knife" at the tree trunk and pronounces a new name for the baby. This method gives the baby a new and stronger spirit.

A name is everything. It gives us an identity. It gives us a place. We can abuse our name but we can never change our name (I guess legally you can) but the name given at birth is what lives within you forever.

In the twilight zone, I wonder what Rianna would have been like. Would she be more adventurous? Popular? Outgoing? Worldly? Introvert? Artsy? A rebel? I would not know. In the back of my mind, I give reverence to Rianna, in whatever alternate universe she might be, and hope she lives up to the greatness of her name and who it stands for.

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