“If I’m gonna tell a real story, I’m gonna start with my name.” -Kendrick Lamar
It all started with an ultrasound. The doctor told my parents I might turn out to be a boy because my heart beat was very strong for a baby girl. My mom would not hear of it.
Praying to St. Clare, Mom promised to name me after her if I turned out to be a girl. She preferred prim and proper little ladies to little boys who might keep on running around and causing chaos. Well, the prayer worked! I turned out to be a baby girl.
On the day I was going to be born, the doctor who was in charge of the delivery was late. As a result, Mom had to be shot with anesthesia twice. While she was awake during my sister’s delivery via CS, she fell asleep during mine. Maybe something happened while she was asleep because what happened next was way out of the script.
Still groggy, the nurse insisted that my birth certificate should be filled out already so they can file or process it. Just to get it over with, Mom complied to the nurse’s insistence. But, instead of “Clare”, my birth certificate only showed “Monica.”
I used to envy my sister, Kristine Patricia. I felt she was more loved because she was given two names. Mom would jokingly tell me they gave me a single name because they did not want me to have a hard time in school because of having to write a long name. In reality though, I do have two names.
Nicole. Every year, all my birthday cakes always say “Happy Birthday Nicole!” It was supposed to be my second name that apparently was missed out.
I loved the name Nicole. After researching its meaning, I found out it was the feminine form of the Greek name Nikolaos and meant “victory of the people.” It sounded way more triumphant than the name Monica that came from the Greek word, monos, that means “alone.” In denial of how tragic the name sounded, I leaned more towards the other possible origin of the name. It was the Latin word, moneo, which means “advisor” or “counselor.”
Growing up, I never really liked the name Monica. Bullies would call me Moron-ica out of spite. They even made a jingle about me (using my name) saying that I will never be anything other than someone whose job is to pick bird dung in the farmlands. Being called Monica is like a trigger for that jingle to be played in my head.
That’s why I liked getting friends and family to make nicknames for me. Over the years, I have been called Monique, Nica, Monmon, Mony, Colein (jumbled letters from Nicole), Micole, Meika, and more recently, Mia. Despite my many names though, I have always remained the same.
They say that your name has power and some would even think it determines your destiny. Perhaps that’s true. Being an introvert, I saw how “Monica” meaning alone made sense. I can be very social but most of the time, I preferred being by myself. On the other hand, I do have a tendency to speak out in defense of others when I feel they are treated unfairly. Maybe it’s Nicole who takes charge in moments like that.
Regardless, no matter what my name should have been or could have been, the bullies from my childhood were wrong. I am not a moron and I am far from ending up as a dung picker.
I am now taking steps into having my birth certificate corrected to include the name Nicole. Whether that will do my destiny any better, I do not know. But, I do have high hopes for a good future.