What’s in a name?


“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -William Shakespeare

Amongst a candid conversation with my family, I learned that the next choice for my name, after Meredith, was Rose. My mom dropped this fact so casually that, as the conversation quickly steered off into another direction, this seeming bit of minutiae was glossed over by the rest of the group with ease. My thoughts, however, were stuck on this particular fact for a much longer time. 

It seems so inconsequential, nothing more than a trivial fun fact. It’s so easy to say that I was almost Rose. But I’m not Rose; I’m Meredith.

The follow-up question is the great “what if?” What if I was Rose? 

The easy and obvious answer is that I’d still be me, still be everything that makes my being uniquely mine, just with a different label. 

But the longer I dwelled upon that, the more confused I become. If I would still be the same me as Rose, then what makes Meredith mine? What gives any name meaning?

I think names hold a lot of power. Hearing someone else say your name in a conversation immediately makes it more intimate. “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain” was a lesson impressed upon me from a young age by my mother. I mean, even in the Harry Potter series Voldemort is referred to as “He Who Shall Not Be Named” in order to diminish his influence. 

Your name is the very first thing you introduce yourself with. It’s your leading descriptor, your primary identity. 

I’m Meredith, and I’m funny, bossy, loud, and independent. I’m Meredith who writes until her brain deflates and reads until her eyes glaze over. I’m Meredith that is ready to move on but is scared to grow up. I’m Meredith and, I’m Meredith who, I’m Meredith that.

I’m Meredith and, I’m Meredith who, I’m Meredith that.

Your name is something so personal, one of the few things that are wholly yours for your entire life. Be it hyperbolic, you could almost say your entire life revolves around your name. 

To then take the idea that you’d be the same with a different name discredits the identity we take in the name we have. 

Maybe it’s less abstract than I am making it out to be. Maybe, if I were Rose and not Meredith, I would still have the same idiosyncrasies and interests as I do right now. Maybe I would be passionately Rose. Maybe I’d love and defend my flowery name with pride. 

But I’m not Rose; I’m Meredith.

And as long as I am, I will appreciate my title and be proud to label myself as such.