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What’s in a name? How does your given name represent and define you?

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By Susie Briscoe

For me, it has been Susan/Sue/Susie – even the Old (or Aged) Bat! – at the various times in my life. Why the changes? When do you grow into the name that is really you?

When listening to a Webinar the other day I had an epiphany.

The speaker was saying something which triggered me to go off on my own musings. It was around the subject of names; the titles we give to ourselves and things and the implicit interpretation this brings.

I was christened Susan – a very straightforward name chosen by my mother as she had taught a good little girl by that name, whom she liked, so thus it was settled: Susan. In Hebrew it means Lily and is representative of the lilies of the field and on learning this I immediately felt beautiful. However, it is a very sober sounding name befitting a good little girl… then I became a teenager.

My generation was possibly in the front line of teenagers as our ancestors had been too engaged with the necessities of life, war and keeping body and soul together to enjoy the pleasures of youth. A hundred years earlier 8 and 9 year old children had been sent out to work for the overall good of the family.

So, here I am a teenager. Susan is not a very teenage name I must have decided, and so I became Sue to my friends. Only my parents and extended family would call me Susan now. With the change of name came a change of attitude. Things that the good Susan would have found difficult to do were now a sure thing for me. Rebellious? – certainly and as I reflect back I am amused by the silly things that teenage me thought were ‘cool’ and trust me, I’m not about to share any of them!! – It would seriously dent my credibility – but we’ve all been there as I’m sure you’ll also recall :)

The next stage of life was when I met Albert, my soul-mate and the man I have been married to since 1970. Somehow I sensed that Sue was no longer fitting me… and very self-consciously I became Susie because that’s what Albert called me.    What do I mean by that? Well, there must have been something there that he saw in me that made him want to call me that… as for me:  I think it sounds softer, and more fun – has a lighter touch maybe – and I wanted to be this new person with my future husband. I didn’t own the name to start with; I had to grow into it. Albert was the one who had initially called me that, and when he introduced me to his friends this was the name he used.

Gradually, and certainly since marriage, I have become Susie.

Guess what?  That was then and this is now… I’ve grown into another name!   “Zizi”.   You may well ask!   I became a grandmother to the most wonderful baby boy.   I was asked what I would like to be called, and my response was, ‘he’ll find his own name for me’.   That wasn’t good enough – the pressure was on.   I’d thought Grannie, but that one had been taken… I would have been happy with Grannie – old fashioned and with a reassuring ring to it.   I repeated that he’d find his own name for me… and I was still pressed for a real answer.   We’ve got to have a name for you for when we are talking about you or referring to you with him…Okay, Grandmama!   You cannot be serious?   Yes, I’m very serious – he’ll never get his tongue around that and so I will have it my way and he’ll create his own name for me.   And so it came to pass:   When he was learning to talk, he couldn’t get his tongue around his own name – Sebastian.   He called himself Bassy.   Likewise, when it came to me, he started attempting to say the word Susie, but it came out as Zizi, and so another name is now attributed to me, which I am very proud of.   I love being a grandmother and all the fun that goes with it and I’m delighted to share a picture of my daughter and her bouncing baby boy… just a little bigger these days; at 16 years old he is 6 feet and 2 inches tall.  I’m so happy to share a picture with him taken on the 22nd October this year, when I took him to drive three different super cars at Dunsfold Airbase… it’s the place that is used by Top Gear (a British TV programme given over to cars) to film their own racing stunts.

It is remarkable looking back at the four stages of my life so far how each name has been fitting for the moment. The good child, the rebellious teenager, and the ‘getting to be more mature’ woman (and even after all these years I don’t really want to be that grown up!)    Each incarnation was/is real and each takes on its own personality.

The Susie I have grown into is allegedly mature, has a great sense of humour, and really likes to have fun whilst ensuring that contribution as a value is a very important part of my life. I now own my name in a very real way. Each part of my life has contributed to the ‘me’ I am today – the making of a real and complex person. Like me, you will have experienced this journey to a lesser or greater degree depending on where you are on life’s journey.

I’m sharing these musings to see how you might interpret this in your own life. How relevant is this for you? What do you feel you have grown into, that has made you the person you have become?
How are your thoughts limiting or growing yourself?

I hope this will stimulate your own thinking … is this ringing any bells for you? Let me know how this triggered memories for you and what you are now able to do with them as a result of identifying the reasons, meanings and where they originate. Please don’t hesitate to Skype me if you’d like to explore this issue further – susie.briscoe. Do you own your name or does it own you… and what difference does it make in your life? Let’s talk soon!

By the way, if you are interested to learn about how to apply storytelling principles to your marketing, join my WinTrade Global Masterclass this Thursday at 5 pm GMT to learn about storytelling and how it can benefit your business.

Giuseppe Caltabiano Storytelling in Business

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