What’s in a Name?

African man with Hello My Name Is sticker on bare chest

What does your name mean to you?

How do you identify with your name?

The other day I heard someone call out for ‘Kevin’ and I immediately felt they were in good hands. I wasn’t even the Kevin they were asking for. I just associate my name with quality and efficiency. I know it will be done right.

In reality, the other Kevin could have been a complete loser, but this didn’t disturb my calm. It was a Kevin and that meant quality.

I remember back in high school we had a diving contest. We were supposed to do something weird diving off the platform into the pool. I was in the contest and did the weirdest move I could think of. I recall thinking it was pretty average but was pleasantly surprised when I got called up for round 2. They liked me, they really liked me! I stood in line waiting for my turn. I stepped up onto the diving board, ready to wow them. The judges looked at me, “Oh, sorry, we meant Kevin B.” Talk about the walk of shame. It’s enough to bring a high school sophomore to tears. Not being called up is one thing. I wasn’t too invested in it to begin with. But when I got called up for another round my pride jumped on board. I’d made the cut. But I hadn’t. I so hadn’t, that they didn’t even consider that there were two Kevins in the contest. I was so out of the contest in their minds that there was only one Kevin and I wasn’t it. Ouch!

I take pride in my name and associate my actions with it. I strongly identify with my name. It is a critical part of my identity. I often don’t even think about how deeply it’s wedged into my psyche, but there it is. It is a fundamental building block of my identity. I have been called Kevin since birth.

I don’t like disparaging remarks about Kevin’s in general. If I hear someone talking smack about a Kevin, my ego jumps in to defend.

I’m glad we don’t have a president named Kevin because I would have to separate my identity to allow for criticism of a Kevin that wasn’t me.

When you take a long step back. Given how deeply ingrained your name is to your identity, it has to be a really long step. It can be very difficult to step back this far. But when you do, it is interesting to see how much your name is just another label.

It’s a label that means something to others.

It’s a label that means tons to you.

It’s a label that you find being used to identify yourself and in turn locking yourself into a behavior. You may find when you label yourself with your name you are in fact setting your expectations based on that label instead of based on who you really are.

Who is that? Oh, that’s Kevin.

Don’t get hung up on labels.

Namaste,

Kevin

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