Popping in to share on a topic I’ve been pondering for a while.
My name is Joanne. It comes from Hebrew and means “gift from God” or “God is gracious”. I believe it was my father who gave me the name, to continue the pattern of J names in the family after my older sister, Joy. Growing up, I didn’t think much of my name. Period. I didn’t particularly like it, I didn’t particularly dislike it. It was just my name.
As I grew – I’m not sure when it started, perhaps in high school – I began to develop a distaste for my name. It sounded boring. I would have even preferred the name Joanna, as much as I dislike being miscalled it often. Joanne sounded like an old lady’s name. (In fact, a quick Google search indicates it reached its peak of use in the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century). I tried to find many ways to disguise my name – not including it in my email address, and encouraging, or maybe more accurately, purely enjoying it when friends used various nicknames like Jo, Jojo, Mojojojo, the list goes on.
To this day I continue to grapple with my slight aversion toward my name. When friends fail to call me by a nickname, I wince at the formality of my name and internally question whether we are close friends at all. In graduate school here in the Philippines, where people enjoy having nicknames, while classmates introduced themselves in class using their nickname as their “preferred name”, I would always stick to “Joanne”. Even though I may have preferred to be called Jo, I thought it would feel weird to be referred to so casually by people I’d just met.
My point with this post is, I am slowly learning to appreciate my name. It was given to me for a reason. My parents saw me as a gift from God. Even though I don’t ascribe to any particular religion, there is an undeniable beauty in that. Renaming my blog from Finding Joey to Finding Joanne to finally, Becoming Joanne, also symbolizes my journey to accepting who I am and who I was born to be.
So – to end this perhaps seemingly silly post – hello, my name is Joanne *proud smile* (I’m getting there). What’s yours? And what’s the story behind it?