Monday, March 15, 2010

What’s in a Name?

I’m not certain, but I think my mother chose my name. She went high school in an area where there were a lot of Hispanics and liked the name Yolanda. While I have met several Hispanics named Yolanda, I wasn’t sure it was of Spanish origin. I recently did a little research. Most sites said it was of Greek origin or Greek and Spanish origin. They all agreed that the name meant violet flower. I also found out that it peaked in popularity in the early 1970s, which happens to be when I was born.

Growing up, I didn’t really like my name all that much. For one reason, most people butchered it, mispronouncing it all the time. Secondly, there were all these cool personalized items like key rings, zipper pulls, nameplates, stickers and the like, but there was never, ever a Yolanda. Lastly, I didn’t meet another Yolanda until I was in high school. The originality of my name in my circles may have been a good thing, but I didn’t recognize that until years later. I really, really wanted a “regular” name like Karen or Jennifer. I did try to have a little fun with it. At one point I would develop aliases and try them out, like when I met a guy I wasn’t really interested in-I’d give him a fake name.

There came a time when I was reading about how it was considered disrespectful to your parents to trash or change your given name. Apparently in some cultures and certainly in the Bible, the given name had significant meaning to the family or events in their life at that time. I have great parents, whom I love and honor, so I still have my name. However, my childhood isn’t without scarring.

For a nickname, I was called Gypsy. My great-grandmother called my Gypsy. She struggled with saying my given name and gave me this nickname. At the time, my parents lived out of state and traveled I-95 heavily. Great-grandma Ida likened us to gypsies and that’s how I got my nickname. As a child, it didn’t matter to me. I hadn’t known any different. As a teenager however, I would beg and plead to not be embarrassed in front of my friends by being called by “that” name.

I had long reconciled myself with my name when I began to meet other Yolanda’s. In fact, there were four Yolanda’s in my high school. Okay, this was confusing. You always had to ask “which Yolanda?” in conversations. With the embracing of my name came a little more research: what does it say about me? I found some interesting things for example; I am a person motivated by success. I am a joyful person. I have reasoning power and I am known for loyalty. I don’t like leaving things unfinished and I have inherent artistic qualities. I don’t even remember which site I found this stuff, and I don’t know how valid the information is, however, I did feel as though it was pretty factual about me. Perhaps, I just became inspired to be all those things.


  1. I loved this post Yolanda. I have a similar situation. My name is Hope. My parent's deliberately chose it for me but as a child I didn't like it...they made fun of my name, everyone thought I must be a hippie (a thought that for some reason was insulting to me). it took maturity for me to respect and even embrace my name and now I'm proud of it. It is a vibrant part of who we are.

  2. Hope, Thanks for your post. It's amazing how maturity brings clarity; at least with some things. I think you have a beautiful name! I wonder what my kids will think of their names? Interestingly enough, they have what I would call regular names. They were deliberately chosen based on their meanings and it's just a coincidence that their names can be found on monogrammed bags, zippers pulls and key chains. ;-)

  3. I can definitely relate to this post. I hated my name as a child. No one could pronounce it. No matter how many times I corrected them, they still could not pronounce it. Sometimes I think they would mispronounce it intentionally. I think you are right about "maturity brings clarity." There are so many other things wrong in life, how could I had stressed so much about a name that makes me feel special now. By the way, I made sure my children had basic names too - Corey & Tyler. Believe it or not, I still can't always find both of their names when I am looking for name plates, mugs, key chains, etc.

  4. Chandra,
    I felt the same way about my nickname too (Gypsy). I even embrace that now. Even though I don't usually have trouble finding personalized items with the names of my children on them, I love that with Heritage Makers, I can do so much more. LOL...I have to laugh because one thing they will always know is their name. It's everywhere and it's meaning and why I choose it especially for them. I have created wall canvas', posters and the like to hang up in our home. They have their own travel mugs...a little overboard? Perhaps, but what can I say? I'm a proud mommy!