Everyone has at least one nickname they go by somewhere. Some have many. The rationale behind the name varies. There are variations on all or part of one’s name; in my case, the normal range includes Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, and Grover. There are always funny variations or plays on words. Languages can come into play. Events, personality, and distinguishing features can give birth to nicknames.
As I age, I find that I am becoming more open to whatever name people want to give me. I initially thought it was my way of accepting others in a community. I have come to realize that nicknames are a way others give you feedback.
In the local Harley Davidson dealership, my nickname is Will. There is nothing particular other than the original salesperson misunderstood my Bill and I became Will. In my most recent trip to the accessories store, the salesperson noted that I had three different names. The store had one, my license a second, and my credit card a third. As a joke, she gave me a few more and followed it up with a thank-you card addressed to the more presentable names on the list.
The processed reminded me how people have given others names over the years. In one situation, “they called Barnabas ‘Zeus’ and Paul ‘Hermes’ (since Paul did most of the speaking).” (Acts 14.12) I think the combination of their deeds, the crowd’s surprise, and available labels led to their nicknames. I wonder what would happen today.
If you and I had no name, what nickname would others give us? Would our actions give us a name that we enjoyed? Would our attitude dictate a nickname that would haunt us in the future? Would any event stand out, good, or bad, that gave momentum to a particular name?
Even as I dismissed the idea, I realized that many names come with an emotion attached. Some bring a sense of warmth, friendship, and creativity. Others bring a shudder. There are those that trigger my guard.
Today will tell others about our real name.