How do you feel about your name? Do you know why/how your parents named you what they did? Do you know what it means etymologically, or what it meant to your parents? Does it mean anything to you?
Well, as for myself, I actually wrote about it a couple years ago for Nancy’s Baby Names who has a name interviews series in which she asks people how they feel about their names, so if you don’t know how I feel and do want to know, check out this post on Nancy’s blog, and by the way if you’re anything of a name nerd but haven’t come across her blog before, I highly recommend it in general.
As for the meaning part, my birth name means “pearl”, and I used to joke that it’s because my Dad’s favourite brand of beer is called Perła which unsurprisingly means “pearl” in Polish. 😀 Obviously though if you’ll read Nancy’s post you’ll know it’s not true. It was my Mum who picked my name and I think she liked it, if only because of associations, given that it was her best friend’s as well as her little sister’s name and she chose it as her confirmation name. As I also wrote in the interview for Nancy, the only thing I seriously like about my birth name is my patron saint – Margaret of Castello – who was a disabled (she was blind, a dwarf and had some deformities) member of the Third Dominican Order. There are many saints, blesseds and servants of God named Emilia or other people with similar names who could have worked as a patron saint for an Emilia, but first, no one really resonated with me as much, and second, I didn’t feel it was seriously appropriate for me to look for a different patron saint, after all, my birth name is still the name that I was christened as and I still use it as my Christian name, so like in church and such, and Margaret of Castello is even my Confirmation saint as well because she’s just my favourite. I could have chosen st. Hyacinth of Poland who is amazing as well and use Hiacynta as my Confirmation name but Hiacynta sounds like a nun name and I wouldn’t have pulled it off, not even just as a Confirmation name. 😀 I also liked Luisa Piccarretta and considered Luiza as my Confirmation name, but Luisa Piccarretta hasn’t been properly canonised yet.
My current legal name, Emilia, comes from the Latin word “aemulus”, meaning “rival”, which is also interpreted to mean things like “envious”, so it’s one of those names with a not so positive meaning, but it doesn’t seem to discourage people from calling their daughters Emily or Emilia, and it doesn’t deter me either. I’m hardly competitive, and feel lucky that envy isn’t a feeling that I would have to deal with often at all (if I did have to pick an emotion-related name that would actually fit me, I guess I would have to be called Agar – “one who fears” – lol). But, again, as I wrote in the interview for Nancy, it’s not the meaning that drew me to the name Emilia, but the first thing was Emily of New Moon. And later on I just found more and more reasons to like it, and it does feel very much like me.
My middle name, Anna, means “grace” in Hebrew, and I really like it. I mean, both the name, and the meaning. I love it because it’s my Mum’s name, so mostly what Anna means to me is my Mum, or generally someone who is quite motherly and caring. My Dad actually wanted to call me Anna, which I would certainly like more than my birth name, although it would be even more problematic in terms of sharing my name with someone close than my birth name was, so I’d likely be even more confused whether someone was talking to me or to my Mum. And Anna is overwhelmingly common in Poland, so that wouldn’t be too enthusing either. My Mum once said that after all she wished they’d have called me Anna, and that if they did, she would go by Ania as she usually does, and I would go by Anna, but that’s not too realistic, because I don’t even know a single Polish Anna who goes by Anna, every single one is nicknamed to Ania. And I bet most people would deem it unnatural to call me (as the younger) the full version, and my Mum the nickname, and no one would do it in practice. And I wouldn’t have liked it the other way round because Ania is so plain and boring, lots more than the full Anna. Because of Anna being the most popular name for women here in Poland, I once heard someone say that they perceive this name almost as a synonym for “woman”, which was definitely supposed to be a negative comment. But although I personally also dislike Anna’s popularity, this observation actually made me realise more than before that it’s that essence-of-femininity vibe that I like most about Anna. As any regulars here and people who know me closer will be aware of, I have a very rich and varied Brainlife with multiple Brainworlds in one, with all kinds of beings, real and fictional, and that also includes one Brainworld where there are fictional characters who are like parts of me, embodying some of my traits, strong feelings, difficulties etc. Think Maggie the inner critic or Bibielle. And one of them is actually called Anna, aka my inner mummy, and in some aspects also the opposite of Maggie. She is one huge softie, kind of like my own Mum or grandma except less rational, you know, the textbook example of an individual who would fall into toxic relationships and wants to save people from themselves when they do shit to themselves, or feels compassion towards a villain in a book when he finally gets punished and there’s a vivid depiction of how he’s being impaled and cut into tiny little pieces (not that I ever read or watch stuff like that lol, just a random thing). Anna feels sad for all the people in the world and their issues, be that because they’re a hopeless heroin addict or because they have no slippers on their feet and might be cold, and she would most happily spend her life hugging people, listening to their woes and making them hearty dinners and cakes and massaging their feet. And of course particularly when it comes to any people that she loves or likes. That is certainly not to say that I am like that, because I don’t always, well, I usually don’t, let Anna act on her urges or tell me what I should think or do, because that sort of thing requires exposing your own vulnerability and I don’t like feeling vulnerable, nevertheless, Anna is a piece of me and I think her name fits her perfectly, even though of course not all Annas are like that. I also like that Anna is such a classic name and the Christian and Biblical connections, I like saint Anne (the mother of Mary), who is known as Anna in Polish.
How about you and your name? 🙂