I wasn’t one of the Lisas, or Julias, or Melissas growing up. In fact my name rather than ending in the feminine “a” ends in the masculine “o”.
Having an unusual name in the years when every other kid had a “normal” name was only one of the things that made me feel odd—but it was the one thing that struck me every day. Every time someone said my name I was reminded that I was different.
At that time I didn’t like that. And while I have grown to accept that I am different, that that is who I am, my name still reminds me that I will never be one of the Jennifers, or Taras, or Megans.
I have never met another Marlo. I don’t know if I ever will. At this point it is becoming increasingly likely that if I do meet another Marlo she will be an infant or small child.
Now in the age of “rare” names my name is becoming more popular than it has been. This still does not make me feel “normal”, but rather makes me think that I’m less “special” but still odd.
It’s all very complicated. My feelings about my name are complicated, but that’s how names are.
Names have different feelings and meanings for their hearers and their wearers. Names are titles that stand for specific individuals and must somehow encapsulate their essence, while still not really having anything to do with them.
That’s the thing there, isn’t it? While my name means “me”, it was given to me before anyone ever knew who I was to be. So it may not define me so much as I have come to define it.
I am not the same person I would have been if my mother had named me Jenny (the other name in the running for a girl, because my boy name would have been Miles). I am Marlo, and that is all I can ever see myself being.
Even if my 5-year-old name change to Candy had stuck I would forever be a Marlo at heart.