Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Mom, I will never be Shirley Temple"

What's in a name, anyways? Is your name your identity? Does it act as a way to tell people around you who you really are? Or is it, just simply, a group of letters strung together that act as a random identifier?

I've never felt like a "Shirley", nor do I like where my name came from. My narcissistic mother wanted more than anything for me to become her Shirley Temple. In her eyes, I was supposed to bring her fame, money, and probably a whole lot of attention. But that's simply not me. I will never be my mother's own little version of Shirley Temple.

Last week, I sent in my application to legally change my first name. Once the paperwork goes through, I will no longer be "Shirley". Instead, I've chosen a name that actually means something to me, and which I can identify with. As it stands, every time I say or hear my name, I don't just hear "Shirley". Instead, I hear "Shirley-as-in-Shirley-Temple-which-is-what-my-mother-wanted-me-to-be-but-which-I-can't-be-because-I'm-not-good-enough-and-that's-why-my-mother-doesn't-love-me". I'm tired of it.

I've mentioned this to a few friends already, mostly to gauge reactions, and so far they've been positive. I'm still very worried about judgments and about what people will say about me behind my back. (I've never been good at not caring about things like that.) But at the end of the day, I need to do what's best for me, which is to focus on re-building my life the way I want it to look, as opposed to how I think everyone else wants it to look. I know that this will not be an easy task, since I've spent my entire life trying to be whatever I needed to be to make other people happy. But one thing I've learned is that trying to be whatever I think others want me to be never works. So, its time for a different approach.


  1. I feel the exact same way about my name, while Ive never changed it legally, I simply dont use my given name anymore.

  2. Good for you! You are in charge of your life. It is impossible to make your mother happy. You could do everything she wants and she can still choose to be unhappy. We forget that we don't have the power to make others happy; they have to choose to be happy.

    Parental expectations drive me crazy!