Michaels: What’s in a name?

Sylent Lee Michaels photographed with her cousin Morgan Lee Sheerin, as they both share a middle name. - Copy Editor / Sylent Lee Michaels

I want to share a story, a story about a name. It is my name in fact, and I want to share it with you to prove a point. The point that names tell a story and why it is a beautiful thing to be able to appreciate and acknowledge the story of a name. 

My name is Sylent Lee, pronounced like the word silently when put together. I am quite literally named after the Christmas song, “Silent Night” – but how that came to be is a tale within itself. And growing up knowing exactly where my name comes from and having it be such a unique one, I learned quickly to find a sense of admiration to learn about why someone is called as they are. 

Every girl on my dad’s side of the family has the middle name of Lee — with different variations of spelling. My father wanted my initials to match those of his mothers, which were SLM. So, my parents had the L and the M, they just needed a first name that began with S. Now, my siblings have common names of Ashley and Justin, so one could expect their third child to have a simple name — but no. 

My dad was driving one night, and the song “Silent Night” came on. He called my mom and expressed that he thought they should name me “Sylent.” She responded by calling him crazy, for a multitude of reasons. But, in the end, they changed the “I” to a “Y” to be unique — and I am beyond glad that they did. 

Having a unique name was something to adjust to, I have had to experience people singing the song to me or playing it and saying “Hey, this is for you” and it wasn’t always fun. If I am being honest, it annoyed me at times. As equally annoying as never finding any keychains or cool cups with my name on it could be, or teachers struggling to pronounce my name every year. 

But it taught me something I want to share with as many as I can. And that is that names are a very important aspect of who you are as a person, nicknames included. Our names tell a story, whether it is simple or unique a name can mean so much — and it is fun to learn about it. 

You don’t know me, but by knowing where my name comes from, you can get a glimpse at the love my father has for his mom so much so he named his daughter after her. You can see how my parents are fun and creative people. And now, you will remember my name because you can see it for more than just a name. 

Maybe you know the story of your name, but maybe you don’t. It is something that is worth learning about and I hope sharing this will make you want to look into why you are named what you are. Or, to dive deeper — take to Google and see what deeper meanings there are of your name. It is such an interesting thing to know and can even make you want to learn about your friends’ names. 

Nicknames too, are important, every given name has a story behind it — whether it is simple, silly, given out of love or given out of a mean heart it is going to have a story. And you should make an effort to learn about it because it can be interesting. 

Maybe you’re named after a loved one. Maybe someone’s nickname comes from something they hate and is really embarrassing. Maybe that nickname has a hilarious and loving story behind it. Maybe your parents just liked the name or maybe you’re named after a favorite character in a movie or a favorite author. 

Whatever it may be, go find that story. Go and share that story with who you want to share it with. Learn it and appreciate it if you can, as it is always better to know where the thing you identify yourself with came from!

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