February 14th, 2018.
Today is my birthday! Fifty-some years ago today, my parents gave birth to “ME”!
It was 4:59 PM on February 14th, that my mother and father welcomed me into the world. No doubt they ooh’d and ahh’d over their newborn baby girl. Best of all was that they finally had a daughter that they hoped to have for so many years.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered there was a “mistake” that fateful day. Yes, that’s right. There was a mistake right from the start on the day I was born.
Over these past 50-some years, I have lived a life that has felt less than I was meant to be. I’ve always felt unsettled when thinking about who I really was and why I never quite felt “right”. Some might say I was living a life that wasn’t mine, or lived in hiding, or wasn’t true to who I am.
And so today, on this my birthday and in honor of my most genuine self, I’m am embracing my truth with self-love of who I have always been.
This is my truth – I am not Joanne Angeli. Nor am I Joanne Marie Angeli; the name I adopted in 5th grade when everyone had the middle name of “Marie” — except for me. (Thanks, Mom, for taking me to City Hall to change it.)
It might not seem to be a conundrum that such little attention and value is placed on the meaning and sensitivity of a name; until you realize that it’s not YOUR name.
Several years ago, I discovered my original birth certificate. And what to my wondering eyes did I see? It was that my birth name was actually Joanna Angeli. No “e” at the end and certainly no middle name. It was when I added Marie as my middle name that we accidentally changed my name from what it was always intended to be.
Oddly, I remember as a child pretending that my name was “Johanna” – the German version of Joanna. Huh? Had I known all along? Don’t know! I just knew I liked it…way more than I liked “Joanne”.
Thus began my quandary and questions. Did that explain why I’ve always despised my name? (Sorry to all the Joanne’s in the world. I’m sure you’re beautiful.) For me, it always left an “ick” taste in my mouth when I said it. It never felt right. It made me uneasy.
Over the past several months, I’ve met many new people. A staggering number of them responding with, “Hi, Joanna, (insert pleasantry).” Hhhhmmm. To top things off, several of them went on to say that they had a hard time calling me anything but Joanna, as that seemed to be who I was. Hhhhmmm. Maybe they knew something I didn’t.
I began to look into the meaning of my name and came to understand what really felt right for me. I discovered that there is most definitely a distinction between Joanna and Joanne.
If you search the Urban Dictionary, you’ll find the meaning of “Joanna” to be this:
The most sincere, good-hearted, and gorgeous girl to grace the world with her lively presence. Pretty much the most awesome person you can ever hope to meet. Be wary though, Joanna is a complete badass.
A girl who seems innocent, but also knows how to have fun. Joannes are usually beautiful, have slender and sexy bodies, extremely smart, and get all the guys.
There it was. In print. I am JOANNA! The very essence of who I am as reported by the most reliable source, the Urban Dictionary.
As of today, I officially shed the name you’ve known, along with all the “ick” that it has created for me so that I may live into who I truly am – sincere, good-hearted and a complete Bad A$$.