A Few Statements About My Name: Slice of Life #sol21 5/31

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Even as a child, I never liked nicknames. And yet my parents gave me one.

Betsy. Which I shrugged off at fourteen.

The ‘s’ in Elisabeth is an affectation I picked up at the same age, when I asked to be called by my middle name.

Somehow the ‘z’ looked too harsh to me, especially when combined with the ‘z’ in Hazel, my first name.

One simple letter change felt mysterious, felt sophisticated, felt French.

A snapshot of all my longings at fourteen.

And it stuck. I never returned to the ‘z’.

For most of my life, I didn’t like Hazel. I abbreviated it to H.

I still like the abbreviation, still use it when I sign my name.

I have made my peace with Hazel. Now, I appreciate being named after my two grandmothers.

And now, Hazel is apparently considered cute. Even popular.

In fifteen years, if I am still teaching, I may be teaching a room full of Hazels.

A couple of people I barely know have nicknamed me Liz, which I don’t appreciate.

It feels overly familiar and lazy to shorten the name of someone you barely know.

No one has ever called me Beth.

A couple of people I know very well call me Hazel. From them, it’s meant to be and sounds affectionate.

When I write to them, I sign my name Hazel.

I got the idea to write about names from Terje’s wonderful slice about her name.

29 responses to “A Few Statements About My Name: Slice of Life #sol21 5/31”

  1. Haha! If you thought Hazel was harsh, there is worse. Hortense. You can imagine the nicknames. I had to fight every boy from first grade through the first year of my first job. I seethed at my parents for decades for branding me so. Now, I love the name. Harsh can help build character. Or at least muscle.

  2. Hazel is a beautiful name to me, too. I am also intrigued that you changed one letter and stuck with it. I cannot imagine you as a Betsy!

  3. Loved this line: One simple letter change felt mysterious, felt sophisticated, felt French.

    A great post! It reminds me of my mom’s story. Her given name was Betty, but her teacher refused to call her anything but Elizabeth, even when my grandmother went in to speak with her. My mother, then in second grade, refused to answer when called upon. It was not a good year for my mother, my grandmother, or my mom’s teacher!

  4. Names are a wondrous thing and carry so much with them–sometimes I think it’s a shame we don’t get to pick our own. That said, what would people call us until we had the maturity and experience to know what we want? The only thing I dislike regarding my own nickname is that it means my entire spoken name is only two syllables, making it a bit difficult to understand sometimes. Thanks for sharing this!

    • And I wonder how old we would need to be before we could be counted on to choose something we could like and live with for the rest of our lives? Because I had some pretty outlandish ideas until I was 16 or 17!

      • I’m sort of jealous of your ability to put outlandish ideas behind you…I might still suffer from them on occasion!

  5. Elisabeth, I adore this synopsis of information about your name. I’ve learned so much more about who you are from each of these lines. I’m in awe that you substituted the z for the s in your name! Can we do that? Such mojo you have! I’m thinking I’m so glad to know this lady! She has verve! Can you give me some of that? You prompt me to think of my own namesake and how our names describe who we are. Tomorrow’s post is being drafted in my head as I type this comment. 🙂

  6. I always find it interesting he hear the origins of someone’s name. I never asked my parents, wish I had, how they decided on Robert for me. No one in our family has that name. Just please, don’t call me Bobby, even though me family and a few old friends still do.

  7. I loved learning these things about you. As someone who barely knows you, this post felt like a rare gift. Personal details that tell a story of their own. Hazel in the background, Elisabeth’s “s” holding her ground, no Beth to speak of and a pox on those who opt for Liz, lazy in their assumptions.

  8. Names are the richest source of writing. I love the way you talk about the change to an “s” at 14. Most of us are messing with handwriting and doodles. You were reimagining. I also love that you share about the name Hazel’s change over time, and how you share that connection with your truest familiars.

  9. Does anyone like their name? My given name is Tammy and so many people think it is Tamera. My parents didn’t want a name that could be a nickname. I always wished I was named something else…like Annie!
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. My grandmother gave me Ramona and her name became my middle name, Ella. Friends at different stages in my life have called me Mona. No one does now, except old friends and family. I love that you changed the z to s yourself!

  11. How interesting that you have changed your name around and the spelling. It’s a little hard to think of you as Hazel (even though I don’t know you at all!). Hazel is a lovely name and as you say, many such names are now coming back into fashion. It’s fascinating how names fashion an image according to people we know by that name….

  12. Wait wait wait wait wait. Your name is HAZEL? And Elisabeth was originally spelled with a z???

    I am always thrown off when people have Real Names on the Internet (TM) that are not their actual names. I am not distraught but I may be close. DO I EVEN KNOW YOU AT ALL?

    (I’ll be fine. I have a flair for the dramatic.)

  13. I love your thoughts on your name! I’ve known people who switched to their middle name as well because they weren’t huge fans of their first name. I’m glad you’ve found a version of your name that you like! Thanks for the great post!

  14. Such an interesting story! Hazel is indeed a name that is coming back to popularity…. I have a granddaughter who is in kindergarten this year who is named Hazel. You very well could be teaching some Hazels in the future! 🙂 ~JudyK

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