This I Believe
A name is a very powerful thing. It often possesses the ability to completely manipulate a person’s perception of another, and may thereby determine a person’s opportunities in life, or lack thereof. My name is Ayriel.
One time when I was quite young I attended a potluck with my mom and little sister. I cannot remember the celebration behind that affair of potato salad and lemonade, but I specifically remember getting my feet very dirty and playing with another girl who had long, ratty, blonde hair. The girl’s name was Crystal. Being the materialistic little girl I was, I thought Crystal’s name was fabulous. It made me think of a big candy ring pop that looked like you could eat it, but you really couldn’t because it was made out of solid crystal. The whole way home I told my mom how much I loved Crystal’s name and wished that my name were diamond or sparkle. But my mom just had to burst my bubble and told me that I didn’t want a name like that. Nobody would take “sparkle girl” seriously. No, Ayriel was a very nice name.
Then, there was this little boy at my church. His parents named him Noah, and not so surprisingly he reminded me of giraffes, and ships, and fish jumping everywhere. The real Noah, from the Bible, was a very good man. He was the only person who listened to God while everyone else was sinning and fooling around. When God punished the naughty people and sent the Great Flood, he protected Noah and him family and all the animals Noah brought on the arc he built. Well, I babysat the Noah from my church. Noah was lazy, and he slept in late, and he only wanted to play video games and watch TV all the time. Each day when I asked Noah if he wanted to play outside with his little sister and me, he refused to get off the big, gray couch in the living room. Instead he’d just sit there the entire day. The Noah from my church could never have built an arc.
My name used to make me feel awkward; like I stood out. I didn’t know anyone else named Ayriel, and I hated being different. Over time, though, the unordinary nature of my name has added a lot to the way I feel about my own identity. Since I don’t know anyone else with my name, there are no limits on who, or how I can be. I’ve been allowed to create the definition of “Ayriel”.
Now I love to think about what unordinary names I’ll give my future children, but I know I have to stay within reasonable boundaries. I really want to name my first daughter Malena. I like the name because it’s unusual and pretty, but not too “over the top”. Last year in my calculus class, when I was especially bored one day, I began to scroll through my math book’s pages and read the names of old mathematicians. Well, I came upon one name that I loved; “Evariste”. It was artsy, and unique, and the perfect name for my first-born son. Sparked with excitement, I began to tell all my friends about my future son’s name. The response I acquired, however, was not the one I’d hoped for. “Oh Ayriel, you couldn’t name your son that! Everyone would think he was gay!” Well, that settled that.
Then there was this girl at choir camp last summer. Her first name was Star, and her last name was Fall. I’m dead serious. I immediately took Star Fall less seriously than every other singer at camp. I was more concerned with associating myself with normal girls, especially these two whose names were Lauren and Caitlin. Star’s name reminded me of ring pops and was so whimsical that I couldn’t imagine how she could possibly have had a grasp on reality. As camp progressed, though, I learned I’d been wrong. Caitlin sat next to me in my choir section and was very rude. She ignored me for the majority of every rehearsal. Even Lauren proved to be unfriendly, and was usually very obnoxious. Star, however, was very friendly to me (as well as everyone else), and really knew her stuff when it came to music. Now, I believe that you can’t judge a person by her name.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.