What is in a name? A logical mind might suggest that every name, and really every word in any language, is just a made up spelling using made up inflections derived from made-up symbols. A more free-flowing mind would suggest that our names are a reflection of who we are. Names, just like any other word, do have meanings. But so few of us think about them in that way.
We may not think of our friend Nolan as “a descendant of a chariot fighter or champion. He’s just Nolan. And Mackenzie is our cousin, but is she actually a “child of a wise leader”? While some of our parents may not have given much thought behind the meanings of our names, some parents spent hours trying to find the exact right name for us before we were born.
My parents named me after my father (Daniel), and William was, to my knowledge, a fun throw-in. I was never overly fond of my name. I’ve been called Danny by most everyone in my life, save for the four years of high school where I went by Will because I viewed it as a chance to have a clean slate. But Will didn’t stick, and I’ve never really felt settled in my identity with that name.
When it came to social media, I was always trying to “brand” myself; anything to get people to call me something else. It’s not as if I have a great disdain for my name, my family or my life in general. I truly didn’t feel “right”.
So, I started digging. I wanted to know the origins of my name and understand more the disconnect with it. My first name, William, means “resolute defender”. Very apropos considering the layers of my life that I’ve been pulling back over the past few years. And remember, this is where I drifted to when I was feeling lost as a teen. But we’ll come back to this.
Daniel, on the other hand, means “God is my judge”. Now, I don’t begrudge anyone’s religious or spiritual practices, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. But organized religion isn’t my thing at all, and I’m still very much figuring out my path in the spiritual realm. Which, to me, points the finger directly at that name as to why it wasn’t resonating with me.
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I began my search for a name that spoke to me on my level about a month ago, maybe longer. I poured over web pages of names, their meanings, and really anything I could find about them. It sounds unromantic, but I didn’t want to just have a name that was elegant and looked good on paper. I wanted the meaning to back up this new era of my life. I wanted something that honed in on the changes I’ve made in my spiritual, emotional and mental life. And most importantly, I wanted to feel good when I introduced myself, to feel confident that this was who I am.
I love my family, and in no way is this an attempt to distance myself from them, nor do I desire them to call me by anything other than what they are comfortable with. And to be honest, I’m not sure when I’ll have this discussion with them. It’s a weird feeling trying to bring up that you don’t want to go by your given name anymore. But at the end of the day, you have to be true to your authentic self, and that is what I’m doing.
The name I chose is William (Liam) Silas Beaumont. I wanted to keep William because I still value that name, its meaning and hang on to those ties. But when I was known as “Will”, it never felt natural. Better than Danny, but not quite right.
Silas means “of the forest”. There is no greater peace that I find than being in the forest, amongst the trees, with my feet firmly on the dirt. I’ve talked about that ethereal experience before here. It fit so perfectly for me, and it’s a beautiful word.
Beaumont means “beautiful mountain”, which is in reference not only to where I want to live (near the mountains) but also the beginning of this journey for me. Two years ago, I took a trip to visit a friend in Colorado and it changed my life. To this day, I’ve never been in such a beautiful environment as the Rocky Mountains, and it started me on this long, slow, winding path.
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To those of you that aren’t happy with your names, you have the power. Don’t change it flippantly or for a superficial reason. Be yourself and let your name come to you, however that may be. And to those that have names that they love, congratulations. I know I love mine.