March 6-12 is official “Celebrate Your Name Week” and I’ve decided to play along.
The first of the questions posed on the NamesUniverse site deals with the meaning and history of one’s own name. In my case, that would be “Susan” (though I’ve been known to answer to other things, some more memorably than others).
Susan derives from a Hebrew word meaning “Lily.” The name was extremely popular in the United States between 1920 and 1960 (the #1 girls’ name between 1930 and 1950) but its popularity has waned in more recent decades.
As a child, I always thought my name unpleasantly plain. The only “normal” nicknames were “Sue” (which I loathe with almost unspeakable passion when applied to me, and don’t mind at all if other Susans choose to use it) and “Susie” (which I answer to on occasion, and even like hearing from some people, but the general rule of thumb is “if you’re someone I’d like to use it, you already know who you are”). I didn’t want to be called either of them. Susan I was, and Susan I remain to this day.
The only real consolation I found in my plain-sounding name was the fact that it wasn’t the name my parents originally planned for me. By the narrowest of margins, I escaped being “Mary-Margaret” (yes, hyphenated) for my two grandmothers. A last minute choice meant I ended up with plain, serviceable, non-hyphenated Susan instead.
Thank heaven for last-minute reprieves.
At two, I answered “What’s your name, dear?” with “They call me Cinderella.” (To my parents’ chagrin and dismay.)
At four, I preferred “Snow White.”
By six, I would have rather been Jo but accepted my name as a curse I would have to bear.
But as of this morning (and for far more than a decade) I’m happy to be a Susan.
At the end of the day, it fits me. As it should.
Just don’t call me Sue if you value your kneecaps. On some points, people don’t actually change.
What’s the meaning of your name? Hop into the comments and let me know – and tune in Wednesday for the story of The Name Tesla Almost Ended Up With.
It’s even better than “Mary-Margaret.”