Agnus. Angus. Ags. Aggie. Angie. I’ve become a woman of many names. They’ve been given to me by friends and family. By young people serving at juice bars and the people I see at work. Some names I’ve cherished. Others have stuck like gum on my shoe.
They say your name is important. That it defines who you are. For me it’s been the opposite. My name has often defined the people I’m with. It reflects who they are and the culture they’re from.
My oldest name is Korean. It’s Soonho. But only my parents call me by that name in this country. “Soon” means easy, gentle, smooth. “Ho” means great, big. They say it’s a popular masculine sounding Korean name. Kind of like “Jack”. It was given to me by my grandfather who had big dreams for all of us.
My brother calls me Noons, an Aussie-fied version of Noona which means elder sister. My father has given me another, secret, pen name. So unused, that I need to ask him what it is because I’ve forgotten it.
In Japan I was known as Junko. In Singapore I was ShenHao. In Indonesia I was nicknamed Anak Kangkung because stir fried water spinach was the only thing my mother could eat when she was pregnant with me. These are old names I do not use now.
I am Agnes. It’s a name I have grown into and it is a part of me. It’s formal, old fashioned and keeps people at a comfortable distance.
It is my second oldest name. Chosen by my parents, it was given to me by the Catholic Church when I was baptised as a baby. They say its origins are Greek and means pure or holy.
The name came from an Aunt who introduced my mother to my father. It’s her name too. But she doesn’t use it often. Not as often as I use mine.
I love my Australian nicknames though. Australians have a habit of shortening the names of things. Just ask Josh and Rhys. The Australian Geographic also tells me, with more than 4,300 shortened words in the lexicon, Australians use more clipped words than any other English speaker.
During high school and university, my friends called me Ag or Ags. It wasn’t the prettiest of names, but it was strong. No nonsense. Honest. More importantly, I liked the people who gave me that name. They were my friends.
Aggie has been a lovely recent inclusion. It is my husband’s name for me. I cannot remember being called by that name before he came along. I was soon rebranded after I met him and finally found the sweet, feminine name that had eluded me all my life. There are days when I feel I don’t quite belong to it. Or it feels too familiar on the mouths of others I want to keep at a polite distance. But I do cherish it. It is something he has gifted me, and many kind new friends have called me by it.
Via the Daily Prompt: Popular