It’s a mouthful. There is always that moment—a pivot in the flow of a conversation where he/she will ask me, “Wait, what do you prefer? Do people ever call you, Alex?”
“No. Alexandria is fine.”
Names imbibe the purpose of being a convenience for someone else. We have names so that our identities can be summoned without the untidy considerations for our personality, purpose(lessness), or presence. Our names are functional for the impersonal. For me, however, my name has never been something I just typed onto my term papers or for online usernames. It is a personal ordeal to say the least.
As a kid, I was a bit in love with my name. I prided my self in giving correction when I was addressed with the misnomer of Alexis, Alexa, Alexandra, and even Alexander! I would pertly chirp, “Actually, my name is Alexandria. Alexandria Brown.” I liked the way it sounded, and I liked it even more when I found out what it meant. I got wind that it had something or other to do with the greatly esteemed Alexander the Great.
The name Alexandria is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Alexandria is: A feminine form of Alexander meaning defender of men, used in Britain since early 13th century; it became popular after the marriage of the 1863 marriage of future King Edward VII to Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
In short, Alexandria means “Defender of Mankind” or “Protector of Man.” I had been bestowed this hefty namesake, and I internally reveled in it. My grandmother had purchased a little book of historical figures, and I book marked Alexander the Great’s entry and allowed his little blurb of history to roll through my mind often. I was pleased to be associated with such a dynamic man. He conquered all of the Persian empire and his influence kicked off the Hellenistic period. Every now and again, I jokingly wonder to myself whether some of that sense of purpose and destiny will rub off on me by the time I graduate. One can only hope.
As I grew up—and part of it may have been the hyper-awareness I had for my name—I developed deep convictions about standing up for others. “Protecting” them. Again, having my name became a verb; it was not about me in the end. It was about what I could do for others—protecting others, defending others, confronting others.
Of course, my zealous efforts to be the hero for other people was not entirely unwarranted or misguided, but it was easy to forget that I needed to include myself in my own rescue programs every once and while.Today, I am of the thought that names aren’t important because of how others can identify you, but it is a reminder to acknowledge yourself.
A name is not fate, it is not destiny, it is not a summoning gesture. A name is an opportunity for you and others to recognize your presence in this world.
So there are moments, when introducing myself where I detect the assumption that I recognize that my name is a bit much to say all at once.
The person may ask, “Do you prefer Alex or Alexandria?”
I feel free to answer, “Alexandria will do.”