Your Name Your Story

February 21, 2014
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Shana’s Story

So many name changes would give me a headache, but this woman seems to have handled it well!


My mom thought I was going to be a boy, and they were planning to name me Sean. Turns out I was a girl, so they simply modified their chosen name, and I was given Seanna (Pronounced Shawna). Everyone called me Sea-Anna, so when I was 10 months, they legally changed the spelling to Shana. Now everyone calls me Shaaaana. I answer to everything, but technically my name is pronounced like Shawna.

I was not named after anyone, they just liked the name.

February 21, 2014
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Dani’s Story

This name is one that is unique and meaningful to its owner, and I can tell she has a strong sense of identity.


My mother wanted to name me Dani. She liked the spunk that it had–a boy’s name as a girl’s. My father, however, wanted to call me Dani but name me Danielle. This way, I would have the option to go by a more “professional” name as I grew up.
No one called me Danielle. When teachers called out Danielle on the first day of school I’d cringe, then quickly correct them. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the name Danielle – I did – it just wasn’t me. Like my mother, I liked to think that the name Dani was unique. It fit me.

Both of my parents agreed to legally change my name. We’d talked about it for a while, but it was finalized in court on the last day of school in seventh grade.

I personally believe our names are important. Of course, they’re not the be-all and end-all, but they are usually one of the first things a person finds out about you. I believe you should feel comfortable with your name. You should say it with pride: I know I do.

January 15, 2014
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Esther’s Story

This is a beautiful story full of culture, identity, and joy.


My parents named me after Esther of the Bible. She was a Jewish queen who saved her people from genocide and is known for her courage. My parents are both Christian, and they tell me they picked this name for its association with an honorable person of the Bible, and also its easy pronunciation (for my grandparents’ sake).

When I was younger, what stood out to me about Queen Esther was her beauty, so I was fully into dressing up, acting like a princess, and telling people I was Esther, Young and beautiful (no Lana reference intended…but did you catch the pun?).

I’m certainly not the bravest person around, and I don’t stand out in a crowd…but maybe I should have told you about my Chinese name instead because I live up to it a lot better, so it means more to me, although I go by my English name. Sorry. Here goes: My Chinese name 杨韵宁 means “life is a song,” “joy,” “peace.” All those nice things. My mom picked it for me, and I know those are characteristics she hoped I would bear. When you first meet me, I’m told I come off as a very happy person – not euphoric, but I do smile a lot. When something’s wrong and upsetting my relationship with someone, I usually speak up and try to set things straight.

I don’t think my name affects the way I am, and I don’t feel that it pressures me to be a certain way. There are a couple times that I’ve introduced myself to a stranger and she exclaimed, “Oh, what a lovely name!” and asked me if I knew where it came from. It’s during these moments I’m suddenly aware I want to be someone who is known for certain characteristics. I’m not chained to someone else’s legacy, but since I’m given my own blank page, I definitely want to be the best self I can be.

January 15, 2014
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Amanda’s Story

We should all be proud of our names and our identities.


My name doesn’t have a particularly amazing story–it was just a name my dad happened to like. I’m a twin, and my brother’s name also starts with an A (Alexander,) so I suppose that was a factor–Alex and Amanda sound nice together. As a younger kid, I never liked my name very much–for some reason, it seemed a little clunky and just not as pretty as other names I heard. But now, I feel like I’ve really grown into my name–not because my traits or behaviors have changed, but simply because I now find I like my name–it represents me and all the experiences I’ve had thus far.

January 15, 2014
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Phoebe’s Story

Some new stories have come in, so here’s a story about a person who’s proud of her name!


I was named by my parents, and my middle name was for a great-grandmother of mine. The name “Phoebe” has different significance to both of my parents, as for my Christian father Phoebe is a person from the Bible, and for my literary-minded mother Phoebe is a Shakespearean character. For my mother, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and constancy have always been trademarks of my name, and they seem to have manifested themselves in me quite nicely. For my father it is a marker of the faith that he has carried with him, and the faith he prayed I could carry within me. When I was younger I absolutely hated my middle name, and nicknames, so “Phoebe” was my only option, no matter that everyone who said it either came up with a ridiculous nickname on the spot or pronounced it wrong. Any time a teacher called out a name with a “P” I knew it was probably me, and I wished for a name like Peregrine or Penelope- something where the “P” actually lived off for its purpose. Now, however, my name makes me unique- i have only met one other Phoebe in my life. It gives me definition, and while I may wear another name for a time, I will always be Phoebe.

June 22, 2013
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Edward’s Story

Here is a story of a name used to remind the family of a child who didn’t get the chance to live his life.


My parents chose my name, Edward. They named me after my great uncle, Edvard, who died as an infant in the blockade of St. Petersburg during WWII.

June 22, 2013
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Rita’s Story

Here is a story in which family members argued over the name of their new child and the consequences…


We lived in the USSR. When I was born, my parents agreed to name me Rita. However, my father had an aunt named Adele who had passed away not long before. So, when he went to put my name on the birth certificate, he put Adele. He told my mother that the woman working there said “Rita” was not considered a name and so he couldn’t put it down, and put down “Adele” instead, but I’ll never know the true story. Even though my name was Adele officially, my mother always called me Rita, after her Grandmother Reisija, and I didn’t know that I was really Adele until I was about seven years old. On the first day of school, the teacher called my name, Adele, but I didn’t know she was calling on me. She called it three times, got no response, and got very angry. Finally she called my last name and I responded. “What, you don’t know your own name?” she asked me. When I got home that day I asked my mother about it and she told me what had happened. I have never used the name “Adele,” and when I got to the US I changed my name officially to Rita and made Adele my middle name.

June 22, 2013
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Olga’s Story

Here is a story from a woman who couldn’t be named a Jewish name because of where she lived.


Just before I was born my Grandpa Gezshkl passed away. So my parents wanted (to) name me Golda. But growing up in (the) USSR it was not (a) good idea to give a child so Jewish (a) name. So, they translated Golda to Olga.

June 22, 2013
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Avital’s Story

Here’s a story from a Russian-Jewish girl!


My mom named me this because she wanted to name me a modern Israeli name, and she thought it matched me. She didn’t want to name me an old biblical name, but something modern and unique. I am very often called Tata by my Russian family and friends.

April 4, 2013
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Neeraja’s Story

We have a new story about a name full of meaning! This story is pretty cool. Meaning is a great topic to discuss in your story!


I’m Indian. In Sanskrit, neera=water, ja=born. Neeraj(boy)/Neeraja(girl) are both words for ‘lotus’. My name was picked because it’s not too common, not too rare, easy to spell, etc.