I have an unusual name. I have never met anyone out there who shared my name, contrary to the experiences of Ashleys and Jonathans who populate our vast school system. Maneuvering your way through elementary school with an unusual name can be a challenge, particularly as your diplomacy skills are so limited.
Regardless, I believe in the potent power of a name. Different cultures have various regulations and expectations on what is a proper name. In Russian, there are only a good handful of names for either sex from which parents can choose. As such, every person you meet knows another that shares their designation, and everyone is quite eager to tell you what their name means. It is like their astrological sign: if you want your child to be a certain way, name them carefully.
The English language is much more freeform. Moonbeam, Apple, or Clarence all seem to be acceptable names, if not a tinge cruel. I find that a name can shape a person in incredible ways. Think back to the childhood Ashleys you knew. Or the Brittanys. The Brittanys I knew were always a little too interested in gymnastics. I wonder how many Brittanys have competed in the Olympics.
I have an unusual name and as such I have lived a relatively normal life through, in my opinion, unusual means. I am an elementary school dropout who found himself homeschooled, studying subjects in front of my fireplace at home while my friends were at school. My best friend is a handicapped and we would often travel the few miles to the movie theaters, him in his power wheelchair, and I, clinging on behind sitting on a skateboard. I eventually never bothered to graduate high school, attended community college, and was asked to serve as a missionary in Ukraine for a few years and learn Russian in the process. It was there I met my wife, also an American missionary in Ukraine, and a girl that I had no previous association or knowledge of despite both our entire families being old friends. We were two people who once sat in the same Sunday school class as children who had to go to the complete opposite end of the planet to meet and fall in love. Upon returning, I gained acceptance into a private university despite my lack of diploma by the means of several back doors and a kind entrance advisor who was assigned to me for only the few months I needed her. I now have chosen animation from all of the possible fields in which to rest my future. This all began with an unusual name.
My mother heard my name spoken out loud and instantly knew it was for me, and was so horrified at that revelation that she gave me a back up name. However, I could never change it nor deny that somehow, someway, my name has shaped my life. I believe in the power of names.
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