What’s in a name?

Yesterday a friend offered to give me a pair of adorable shoes she no longer had room for.  They were perfect red pumps and I was excited to try them on. Then I found out they were size 7.  I’m a size 8 but the shoes were so stylish that I really wanted them to fit. Sitting down to try them on, I was delighted that my foot slid in effortlessly.  They felt a little snug but I thought it still might work…until I stood up and tried walking around in them.  The immediate pinching of my toes made me realize I could not fit into this smaller shoe and be comfortable.

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It got me to thinking about another thing I recently tried on…shortening my surname on Facebook to make it easier for people to find me. Being blessed to belong to the wonderful Sonderegger clan through marriage has brought me nothing but joy. However, dealing with the complications of a 4 syllable, 11 letter surname has seemingly had its downside. In Shakespeare’s famous play, Juliet tells Romeo, “tis but thy name that is my enemy…” and I can relate!

As far as long names go, it has no subtle tricks. Each sound is pronounced exactly as spelled, but you would never know it when you listen to people try to say it.  We’ve been called Sonderbeggers, Sonderboogers, Sonderneggers, Sodagregger, Sondagurgers, and Sanderbaggers. Need I say more? We take the mispronunciations in stride, being grateful that at least we can easily recognize telemarketers on the phone by their inability to correctly say our name.

The funny part is it’s really not that hard to pronounce.  It’s just an -egger name.  Everyone has managed to learn to say Schwarzenegger just fine which looks far more intimidating to me – the name and the person!

Where did the Sonderegger name come from?  Swiss by ancestry; was this name generated by those who would saunter by as they egged houses?  I had heard reports Sonderegger means special eggs.  Recently my daughter discovered that Sonder means special/unique. and egger means farmer/field preparer. So we are special farmers and that fills me with a sense of pride for our family heritage.

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So should I alter my name? Juliet mused to Romeo, ‘that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” meaning what really matters is what something is, or better yet who someone is and not what they are called.

We shouldn’t need to change who we are to accommodate the world.  For any of us, living small – whether in too tight shoes, with a shorter name or not letting our light shine, does an injustice not only to ourselves but to what we have to offer the world.

Little did I know that once I changed my name Facebook would not let me change it back for 60 days. So in another month, when Facebook allows, I will wholeheartedly embrace my full and complete last name.  And I hope you will too.

So let’s try it together.  Pretend you’re at a football game and I’m leading a cheer.  I say Sonder, you say -egger. Sonder – egger, Sonder – egger!  Go Team, Fight, Win!

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