The Girl With Many Names
In my Race in Contemporary Society class the other day, my professor asked us to assess our relationship with our name.
My relationship with my name? I immediately just wanted to say “it’s complicated” and leave that thought behind. How could I explain my relationship with the only part of me I don’t understand at all?
I was named Elizabeth Carolyn before I was born, both names coming from family members. Both of my parents loved the combination, so there wasn’t much of a debate. I like to say I was almost an Amanda or almost an Ivy, but in reality my mom didn’t love Amanda and my great grandma Ivy would’ve never let my parents name me after her. She also had a complicated relationship with her name.
I grew up being called Elizabeth by a majority of the people in my life, but I was also known as Bunny by my close friends and family. Bunny was my very first nickname and I’m still called Bun, Bun-Bun, or even just plain Bunny fairly often, it’s not uncommon. I always liked being called Bunny much more than Elizabeth, but I decided that being called Bunny is school would prove to be difficult. Who would believe a fourth grader when she says, “actually, I go by Bunny”. I know my fourth grade teacher would’ve laughed in my face.
I think I was in 5th or 6th grade when I started to believe in the correlation between names and popularity. This was definitely something I created in my head and it truly came out of nowhere, but it was something I believed for a few years, until my sophomore year of high school. I thought Allie’s would always be pretty, Rose’s would always be popular with boys, and any boy named Ryan would easily be the coolest kid in school. Elizabeth’s (an mostly me) would only ever be almost good enough.
This is when I decided to change.
Towards the end of 6th grade, I started brainstorming. I didn’t want to be Elizabeth anymore, so I started coming up with any other name I could be. Liz wasn’t an option, I never liked that one. Ellie was never my thing, and I already had a best friend who was named Ellie, but she spelled it Elle. Naturally, that ruled out Elle, too. Eliza, Beth, and Becky also didn’t sound like me at all.
That’s when Eza came to me. Short, sweet, and to the point. It had the Z that I wanted and still started with an E, which I was hoping I could maintain. Eza was easy. Eza was cool.
On my first day of 7th grade, I started introducing myself to people as Eza. I was Eza in all my classes, I changed my Facebook name, and suddenly I wasn’t called Elizabeth by nearly anyone other than the kids who knew me in elementary school. Even then, I asked them to make the change.
At this point, I still believed in the name/popularity correlation because when I got to LCHS, I made a lot more friends than I ever had in elementary school. I had a boyfriend, a solid group of 8 friends, and I knew everyone in all my classes. I was in ⅞ ASB, I was the president of Builder’s Club (a charity club), and I was getting really good at graphic design. I was finally cool!
During high school, a few names were added to my list. Beth-a-liz by some, Eazy by others, Beth by a few.
Fast forward to my junior year, I had been becoming annoyed with the whole “yes, I have two names” thing. Elizabeth and Eza were completely different people to my peers, it wasn’t a “oh yeah, Katie must be short for Kaitlyn” deal, it was a “who’s Elizabeth” or a “who’s Eza?” situation. Also, people would constantly ask me how to spell it or call me “Eh-za” instead of “Ee-za”. After a few years, I was getting annoyed with my peers and annoyed with my name. Again.
January of my junior year is when I was named to be on the La Cañada Royal Court, so people started calling me Elizabeth again. Then after that, I went to a week long seminar and was called Elizabeth there, too, so I changed my Facebook name back to Elizabeth, but had Eza in the parenthesis. Things were getting less (and more in some ways) complicated and I was slowly being called Elizabeth a little bit more. Also, by my senior year, my teachers were mostly calling Elizabeth. I slowly decided that in college, I would only be Elizabeth.
I was wrong.
Now, not only am I still Eza, Elizabeth, and Bunny, but I’m Lizzie, too. My friends decided to give me a nickname and I was against Eza, so Lizzie slowly started catching on. Now, my entire building knows me as Lizzie, but my classmates and professors know me as Elizabeth. On the other hand, everyone from my high school who goes here still calls me Eza and when I go home, I’m only called Elizabeth and Eza.
Basically, I feel like I don’t know my name at all. I never know what to say when I introduce myself to people and I can never keep who calls me what straight. My boyfriend doesn’t even know what to call me half the time. I was introduced to him as Elizabeth and that’s what he typically calls me, but it’s not completely uncommon for him to call me Eza, Bunny, or other nicknames.
It’s a lot weird growing up not knowing who you are or what you want to be when you don’t even know what to call yourself.
When it was my turn to share my relationship with my name to the rest of the class, I said that I am the girl with many names, but they can call me Elizabeth. Really, they can call me anything, but Elizabeth is the name I was given when I was born, not one I gave myself, or one I picked up along the way.