M is for Michael
Today, I want to tell you the story of my name because it's worth remembering that there's a story behind every name. I've often energized workshop groups simply by asking them to share the story of their name, what it means, how they got it, do they have a nickname and so on.
Before the age of five I don't particularly remember my name as being problematic in any way. Like a dog or cat, I assimilated it, knew the sound of it was different than my brothers' names (and our dog Sandy), and learned how the tone with which it was spoken was more important than the name itself.
However, when I got to school, my name suddenly became an issue -- at least with the teachers. You see, "Michael" is not my first name. My parents graced me with two other forenames -- "Robert" and "John" -- before "Michael". The former was in honour of my father and the latter recognised my great-grandfather. That didn't mean much then, but it does now and gives me a sense of connection with my ancestors. However, that was far from my schoolboy mind.
Then she barked out the name, obviously irritated. Reluctantly, I put up my hand. At the same time she was chastising me for not answering, I was timidly explaining that my name was not "Robert" but "Michael". The class erupted into laughter. Their guffaws and my explanation only added to the confusion and her annoyance.
"It says here that your name is Robert," she said holding up the class roll, before adding, "If your name is not Robert, why did you put up your hand?"
"Because," I said, "it is me."
The befuddlement lasted well into high school and beyond. Administrations everywhere just didn't seem to be able to cope with a boy with three first names. Of course, I tried to help them by lightening my name to just "Michael" to avoid unnecessary confusion, yet somehow I've always felt a little guilty about that.
But to me my name is special. My name is Michael. What's yours? What's the story behind your name?