what's in a name? | guest post by jessica

Hello, my name is Jess. And for some odd reason, it's taken me forever to claim my name as my own.

It's not that I'm picky about nicknames (although to this day, there's only one person I let call me 'Jessy'). It's just that I always introduce myself as Jessica, have always thought of myself as Jessica, regardless of the fact that no one ever calls me that for long. It's like they somehow know (after exchanging very few words with me) that the simplicity and familiarity of four letters suits me better than seven.

Sometimes, I wonder if my mother knew that that's what would happen when she gave me my name, the first time she held me nearly twenty years ago. Other times, I wonder if I would be a different person, had she decided to call me someone else.

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

But anyway. I digress.

Lately, I've been thinking about the value that is found in what people spend your entire life calling you. Growing up, I always wanted to go by something more unique than the name I shared with millions of other girls. So I stole my mother's baby name book off the shelf and wrote out a list of my favorite, exotic names. I decided in my heart that someday I would travel the world, and give myself a different moniker everywhere I went.

Now that I'm older, though, I have learned the value of my name. Jessica Lynn. "He beholds beauty." And somehow, I think Shakespeare was wrong to say that a rose would still be sweet if it were called by another name. I think we call it a rose because of it's fragrance, its softness, its beauty. And I think that our names, in at least a small way, shape us into who we are.

Hello, my name is Jess. What's yours?



  1. This is gorgeous Jess. It's funny, I've never really had a nickname in my house because ever since I was very small, I would say very seriously "My name is Johanna. Only call me that." Ah well.

    (At least you call me Jo, right?)

  2. as i'm getting older, it seems like my name is getting shorter. i went from emma kate, to emma, to em, and who knows what'll come next. ;)

  3. My name is particularly different and unique, so this type of post appeals to me.

    What's my name? Welll...

    ''Well hey there it's a pleasure to meet you - I'm Acacia'' When I say this to someone for the first time they're either a) completely baffled and repeat my name again out loud as if it were in a foreign language or b) say 'Ah what a beautiful name'.

    Sometimes my name is just confusing. When I was little I got confused with how many 'A's and 'C's were in my name so I just ended up spelling my name:

    'Acacacacacia' - Frankly, I just didn't know where to stop.

    Love this (and you).


    PS my name is pronounced 'Ahh cass ee uhh', just in case you're wondering. ;)

  4. this makes me thinky. i know what you mean when you say our names shape us into who we are. 'abbie' is cute and fun and expressive and that's definitely what it's been for me. good post, jess. :)

  5. I've actually thought extensively about this before (ahhh those philosophical times in the shower/bed). you know my name -- it's kind of long, fairly common by sound, but totally weird by spelling (something I've grown to appreciate!), and I was the opposite of you as a kid. I longed for a easy, common plain-Jane name -- Elizabeth, Rebecca, Emily, etc. buuuuuut as I got older I began to appreciate my name more. why? it's the name that God chose for me, the name God knew I was to be called before I was ever even thought of. and that in and of itself is enough to absolutely adore the name you have, hm? anyways, lovely thoughts, I always totally enjoy reading your words. :) love you, jess!

  6. I don't have a name that can really be nicknamed. My name is Rachel, so very plain Jane. Someone once told me I looked like a Rachel, and I was offended because it conjures up such a plain, mousy, wallflower sort of person (which I AM in ways, but just because it is true does not make it less insulting!) My family calls me "Rach" sometimes, but it really bothers me when other people do, I think like, "Hey, who gave you leave to call me a family nickname," because Rach isn't a REAL nickname that can be a name. No one signs their name "Rach" as people do with Liz, Beth, Jo, etc. And its so ugly how could they think I would want that? Some people have called some Rachels ,Rae, but that is definitely not me. My middle name is Olivia, and I have sometimes wanted to see if I could get people to call be Liv. I heard of one previous acquaintance named Elizabeth who went to a new school and signed her name as Liz, so everyone called her that, so I kind of always wondered if I could do that with my middle name.

    On my blog I sign off as Rachelle (French makes it muuucchhh better), Olivia, Liv, Livia, or Livie, and my google profile has these twists on my name. My names do have nice meanings, Rachel means lamb and Olivia olive and olive branches are a sign of peace. I am just neither of those things, ironically. It could be that this should be a reminder to be that way!

    I have always loved looking in baby name books (I have had plenty of opportunity for that as I am the oldest of six). I do think that names are important. I want my babies names to have good meanings as well as to sound pretty. And I mean original meanings, not prettified modern meanings either. I also think that initials are important...so that don't spell something funny...if I marry someone with a last name of "t", "b", or "o" for example my initials could be odd.

    I am sorry for such a long, self-involved comment.

  7. I think names are super important and cool and stuff, but all I can think of right now is a funny story so here goes.
    Jennifer means "white wave" or "white face" or "pale face" or "fair face" (I prefer the latter, ahem), and Noelle means "christmas." so basically, my name means "white christmas." I was telling a group of people this as we were discussing the meaning of our names, and one guy said, in reference to the song, "so I could say 'I'm dreaming of Jennifer Noelle'?" and I said, "are you?" and he had a look of mild terror on his face before he quickly said, "uh..no..." twas greatly amusing.
    the end.

  8. this is so great. love this post so much! hello jess, i absolutely love your name. x
    - Jianine


sometimes i do not understand why you guys like me so much, but the fact that you do (and that you keep coming around) makes me happier than you can even imagine.

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