The Prompt: If you had to switch your first name, what name would you choose and why?
My full name is Susan Rebecca Rachel Kerr. I was named after my mother’s sister (Susan) and an alleged great-great grandmother (Rebecca.) Legend has it that my mother wanted to name me Rebecca Susan and call me Becky Sue. My aunt talked her out of it for which I am very grateful.
I was called Susie throughout my childhood until 7th grade when I decided that “Sue” was more teenager appropriate than “Susie.” The only people who call me Susie now are family and some childhood friends. I warn you that it’s sort of a sacred name to me so never try it and expect anything but a disdainful reaction. My mother and grandmother called me Susan most of my life.
Fun fact: I only knew one other Sue until I went to college. My freshman year, the following women lived on my floor of the dorm: Susan, Suzanne, Suzonna, Susie, Sue Anne and me. Susan lived next to me and Suzonna lived across the hall. Yelling “Hey Suz” down the hallway was not effective. I”m sure there’s some deeper meaning in this event because I rarely again ran into people with similar names. Maybe the Universe was telling me I belonged there? But I’ve got Facebook friends who can back me up on this.
Because my first and last name are both one syllable, I’ve been called “SueKerr” A LOT. Too often. Again, it’s not like we are drowning in Sue’s. Sometimes I wonder if people know that it *is* two distinct names and not a mispronunciation of “succor.”
Rebecca is a perfectly fine middle name. A little old-fashioned which appeals to me. A little matriarchal which also appeals to me (Have you read “The Red Tent”?) and it didn’t really lend itself to any special form of teasing which definitely appealed to the younger me. I don’t really feel any connection or ownership to the name , not like my first name. I sign legal documents “Susan R. Kerr” so the R. feels more real to me.
So, Rachel? Confirmation name. I was a little rebel in high school CCD because I was having all these questions pop up and questions were not encouraged. My cousin told me that at her church everyone was forced to be “Mary” or “Joseph” and I thought that was horrible – here’s the one time I get to actually select my own name! My first choice was Bathsheba. Sister nixed that and told me it had to be a saint. So I did my research and found that most saints were really boring. Someone I discovered that Rachel from the Old Testament was considered a saint as a matriarch so I argued with Sister that since Rachel was Rebecca’s daughter-in-law, it was a good fit. My entire goal was to be contrary. I”m pretty sure it worked. And I’m not really Catholic any longer, but I still whip out the name once in a while. SRRK seems like a fierce set of initials, no?
I do have on caveat to being named/called “Sue” – everyone thinks they are being original or cute when they sing to me. Run Around Sue. Oh, Susanna. Oh Suzy Q. A Boy Named Sue. Yes, I’m 43 years old and people still do this. 🙂
Another caveat – why is this such a difficult name to spell? Have you ever met someone with the spelling “Soo” or something along those lines? Yet, I must spell it out quite often. And Susie? Forget it – Suzy, Susi, Susy, Suzie, etc. I always assumed Susie was the typical spelling. I even have a Christmas stocking from my first Christmas (I was 2 months old) that my great-grandmother made with the spelling Susie. So its great-grandma final.
I like Susan just fine. It always seemed good to me to have a formal name and an informal name. Like switching identities when necessary. It’s a sturdy name, a traditional name, but also not overly used. You often find it on license plates and other personalized items (or at least a variant of it.) I think I’ll keep it.
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