When I was much younger, maybe in first grade, I hated my name. All my friends had really pretty feminine names like Alysia, Josie, or Lauren. I was stuck with Sydney. To me it never sounded like a girl’s name. Whenever I heard it I always thought about my male classmate that I shared the same name with or the ugly sloth from the movie Ice Age that always made me feel mocked.
Years passed and in middle school I still didn’t feel comfortable with my name. Something about the way it sounded or the way it rolled off my tongue made me cringe. I remember doing several art and lacrosse camps the summer of my fifth grade year. I asked all of the counselors to call me Lizzie. I had previously had a teammate named Lizzie and I always admired her. My middle name is Elizabeth so I figured it would make sense. When we returned to school I asked my teachers to call me Lizzie as well.
My parents had never talked about how they named my brother and me, and it was never something I thought about asking them. When I asked them a couple of weeks ago they said they liked the way it sounded. My mom went on to explain that she wanted Olivia or Elizabeth, but my dad had put his foot down for Sydney. He found every excuse not to name me something else. My mom didn’t mind much, in the end I think she liked Sydney the best too.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more accepting of my name. Especially after I learned it’s derived from an Anglo-Saxon name meaning wide island or water meadow. My whole life I’ve been around water. I grew up with a cottage on Burt Lake. Every summer my family would sit on the end of our dock and we would all play in the water. We would take boat trips around the lake together, and my parents would always look at the other cottages while my brother and I stared into the water looking for fish. Even in the winter months when the lake would freeze over, we would take the snowmobiles on the lake and ride them until there was no more sunlight.
For years I struggled with my name, and I never took the time to consider who else struggled with theirs. I think many of my friends and people around still struggle with their names. Many of my friends go by their last name, or some shortened version of their name. I’ve always wondered why parents name their children names like Jonathon or Zachary if they have the intention of shortening their name to John or Zach their entire life? Why would someone name their child Josephine and never call them Josephine, but Josie instead? Why not name her Josie to begin with?