I am home for the holidays, which is always interesting. I’ve written before about my somewhat rocky relationship with Christmas, and all the baggage that comes attached to the holiday season. One of the main reasons for all that baggage is the idea of ‘home.’ My parents’ homes are no longer mine, but they are filled with ghosts of Christmas (and all other times of the year) past. One very active ghost seems to follow me all about my hometown: Stephanie.
I can’t remember exactly when I decided I disliked my full name; I think it was sometime during late high school or university. I remember around grades six and seven I had a teacher who called me Stepapanie, which drove me absolutely bonkers. My friends got on board the Steph train pretty quickly (I didn’t mind other nicknames they gave me, I just hated Stephanie), and my sister and grandmother had Stephie privileges, but the rest of my family just could not get with it. I never went to the trouble of correcting them, which is probably why they still call me Stephanie to this day.
There’s something about Stephanie that I just can’t wear comfortably. When people ask why I prefer Steph, I usually say Stephanie is too formal, but that’s not the whole story. Stephanie takes me back to the person I used to be, and perhaps the person I would have been had I taken a different path in life. Stephanie would’ve stayed local, married young, and had a bunch of kids. She probably would not have been happy. She would have told herself (and everyone else) that she was.
Steph knows better. Steph does things without thinking (too much) about the consequences. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least she tries. Stephanie was fine with the status quo. Steph would rather do things her way, even if it comes at the price of so-called normalcy. Stephanie had a bit of a stick up her ass. Steph has a much better sense of humour (thank God).
Intellectually, I know that who I am is not dictated by what people choose to call me. For the less rational side of me, however, hearing ‘Stephanie!’ (or worse, Stephanie followed by my middle name) sounds like nails on a chalkboard.