Identity crisis?!

WordPress Daily Prompt: Say your name
Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself? Photographers, show us YOU.”

My name is a story of yes versus no, of not liking it to being very recognizable because of it. It’s a story filled with confusion.

When I was born, my mum wanted me to be called ‘Maya’. However, when my biological father returned from the registry office, he walked in waving my birth certificate at her, mentioning the name ‘Willeke.’

I dislike the name for several reasons. The first one is that I was given this name because said donor was mad about a Dutch actress called Willeke Van Amelrooy, The second reason is, at the height of the fame of Van Amelrooy, another ‘Willeke’ had success in The Netherlands, namely Willeke Alberti, a singer of soppy, greasy songs. She was and still is famous in the Low Countries; however, her taste in music is definitely not mine. Can you therefore imagine how much I hated being referred to both dubious characters when I was growing up? I ab-so-lu-te-ly hated it and still dislike it. Aaaargh what was my genetic donor thinking?!?

I would rather make my name than inherit it.
William Makepeace Thackeray

Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands

Nevertheless, what does my name mean? ‘Willeke’ became a famous pet name because of the Dutch much-loved queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands; she was a force to be contended with during her long reign (from 1890 to 1948). I prefer ‘Wilhelmina’ to ‘Willeke’. Even better, I prefer Maya to either. ‘Wilhelmina’ in itself stems from the German name ‘Wilhelm,’ which means ‘he who wants to fight’ or ‘protector’. According to Wiki, “Wilhelmina is a feminine given name, the Dutch and German form of Wilhelm or William, which is derived from the Germanic ‘wil,’ meaning “will, desire” and ‘helm,’ meaning “helmet, protection.” That is about the only thing I love about my first name: the meaning of it. I am someone who wants to fight – figuratively of course – and who loves to protect.

It became even more frivolous at the age of twelve, when we started learning English in school and my teacher decided to call me ‘William’. ‘Willeke’ sounded funny in his English ears so another name went onto to the growing list of nicknames and ill-pronounced first ones. Later in high school, friends would call me ‘Billie,’ ending in -IE and not -Y (I am female after all). Some of my Irish/foreign friends in Ireland still call me ‘Billie’ and I can live with that, although ‘Maya’ would have been a better name because you just cannot rename it whatsoever.

Therefore, after living in Ireland for over ten years, I have to keep on explaining how my name is pronounced when unknown people ask for its origins, and how I ended up with such an exotic name. I am halfway near an identity crisis because all these names became attached to my legal first name.

The third reason why I do not like ‘Willeke’ is because it sounds ‘hard’ and it doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Maya.’

If I were to rename myself, I would immediately attach an Irish name to my identity card. ‘Aoife Ní Crann Darach’ sounds fantastic. Aoife is pronounced ‘eefa’ and means ‘joyful’. ‘Ní’ means ‘daughter of’. ‘Crann Darach’ means ‘oak tree,’ which is a reference to my real family name.

And the fourth reason, the worst one of all? My first name may be typically Dutch, but I am Flemish!

The only good thing about my name is that it makes me instantly recognizable because it’s a name very rarely used in my home country. I also hardly ever need to say my family name when I’m in Ireland and people directly know I’m the one with the 20-eye black Dr Martens boots and short hairstyle. And the funny name.

Whereas others hardly need to be reminded of who I am upon hearing my name, an identity crisis in my head is guaranteed!

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous.
Voltaire

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10 Comments

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Say Your Name | study abroad adventure

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