Whenever I grumble about my name, I’m assured by the nearest person that Emma is a perfectly nice name. Of course, they’re called something like ‘Natasha’ or something normal, but not very common. They don’t understand the annoyance of your name being called out by every stranger, making you freeze in mid pee in the toilet, or turn to look at someone, who gives you an embarrassed look and waves over your shoulder.
I may get to be named after a Jane Austen novel, but I could also have been named after a Spice Girl or any assorted person on the planet. Of course, to every teacher who reads the class roll, my name is unusual.
Through some mistake on my application to the school, my name was written as Emma-Kate, and so it has been on every roll for every class, on my Junior Cert and as it will be on my Leaving Cert. Still, every class I have to hear, “Is it Emma or Emma-Kate” and reply in an increasingly exasperated tone, “Emma”. This never fails to gain an almost hive- minded response from the class; they look and sometimes give a small, chirping giggle. It’s like a bunch of birds turning their heads at an almost 360 degree angle and letting out a chorus of short chirps. Certain people are as tired of it as me and they don’t even ruffle their feathers (sorry to my class for the bird analogy).
|Me. Pic By Brenda Drumm|
My name could be worse (try ‘Darcy) and recently I’ve taken the view that I can individualise myself through more than just my name. After all, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare had it right, though his name is cool and memorable by itself, if he’d never written those plays; no-one would remember it. As Batman said, “It’s not who I am, but what I do, that defines me”. I could be called Laura or Megan and I’d still be a bibliophile, I’d still love to write, I’d still be a girl gamer and my ambition would still be to write books.
People get too hung up over the things that tell other people who they are, like names or looks. I could actually make an effort to dress well and I’d still come home, mourning my comfortable clothes, and sit in front of my laptop, my fingers aching to work on my book. How you feel about yourself is important. I get as bothered as the next fifteen year old when I look like crap, but what’s really important is who you are. What people sometimes underestimate the importance of is liking yourself and finding out who you are. Sometimes it can be difficult for people to see what they like about themselves, modesty being a virtue and all that. What I say to that is that it’s your head and no-one is going to comment on what you think to yourself; what matters is that you do, that you recognise the good in yourself, find your talent.
Living without a purpose, without self-awareness and acceptance for who you are, it eats you up and reduces you to someone who is physically attractive, but without substance. Relationships are the abolishment of barriers like that; they are seeing someone else for who they truly are and that isn’t just what they look like. You have to be true to yourself or love will never be true love, because you’re lying. If you like to take things slow, you show your prospective boyfriend/girlfriend that, make them understand you, for without understanding there can be no progress.
I know I’m acting like I know it all, but in truth I’ve never dated, and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m the kind of person who is tortured by shallow relationships, who sees no value in the relationship rat race, and I make that clear if I like someone. For me, it has to mean something. This is my understanding of love, when it’s more than just you and someone else; when it matters.
I’m not limited by a name or a face or the way I look and present myself physically to the world. I can’t stand being around ‘empty’ people, who control a façade of having this or that personality and forget who they are. Instinct tells me that love is not something that happens at first sight. Snow White is loved for her innocence, Cinderella for her strength; they are portrayed as beautiful because in our world that is seen as important, but it is what they represent that makes them the symbols that they are. Some of the people that we see in movies as being the most wonderful and true sort of person are not so desirable when not posing for the camera.
When you love someone, you love them, not the way that they look.