One City

So apparently, after 12 fantastic years, I am no longer #1. “Emily” has lost its spot as the most popular name for girls. Now it’s Emma. Whatever.


When I was a kid my mom had these cartoonish books for new parents, one of which was a book of baby names and the meanings of names. I liked to look up the meaning of my name and names of people I knew. “Emily,” according to this particular book, meant a healer and caretaker of the world. I did take on this sort of a role, looking out for the kids who were bullied, doing a lot of volunteering, taking care of my friends. Coincidence?

However, when I do a Google search now for the meaning and origin
of the name Emily, I find mostly that it comes from the Latin word
Aemilia, and it means to strive, excel, emulate or rival. Nothing about being a do-gooder. And I do have a perfectionism streak in me. Gosh. Make up your mind, people!

Another page in my mom’s silly book, sadly, had a list of top names and their common stereotypes. Under “Emily” it said: side-line sitter, shy. Well, I was offended…because it was sort of true. I hated sports. I did not feel like I fit in at all with my peers as a kid. Big crowds, shrieking people, popular music, athleticism – oh boy was I turned off. I was very shy until the end of high school.

Did my name and my associations with that name have anything to do with the personality I developed? If I had a different name, would I have been treated differently by other people and developed a different sense of self? Been more confident as a child? Or meaner?

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