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What's in a Name?

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

Having the last name Bommer was not a gift when I was in 5th grade. Take a minute and think about all of the mean and terrible names you can create with something like Bommer. I was an early bloomer; 5’ 3’, 120 lbs, and very developed. I didn’t know what to do with myself in a sea of prepubescent peers, who didn’t have hips, boobs, a backside or pimples. I felt like a fish out of water, and I hated my body! I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what to do with me. My peers had no idea what to do with me, either. Many of the boys in an inappropriate fashion teased me by calling me names and pulling my bra straps. Some girls would make fun of me behind my back while pretending to be my friend to my face. I remember walking into a bathroom one day to stumble upon a few of my friends with toilet paper stuffed bras saying, “Look at me! I’m Sarah.” It was beyond brutal. It was excruciating because I didn’t know who I could trust or where I could go for some respite. I just wanted to get away from the name: Bommer. I remember always wanting to get married, so I could just get a new name. I just wanted a name that didn’t elicit such pain and embarrassment.

Fast forward to my life now. I am a divorced, single mom who decided to keep my married name for my children, and there are many days that I now long for the maiden name I once carried. How is it that something that brought so much negativity can be something that brings comfort? I am guessing it has to do with the fact that I am not sure who I am now that I am a divorced, single mom. It has been many years since my divorce, and I continue to learn about who I am regardless of my last name. I am learning that I am stronger than I ever thought, more resilient than I ever believed, and I am more capable than I ever gave myself credit for. I lived in a world with limited beliefs about myself or what I was worth. I am uncovering how destructive these belief systems have been. I am excited about this learning and discovery, and I want to share it with my daughters. I want them to live a life in which they genuinely believe they can do anything, be anything, and reach their highest potential.

I recently took a walk with my oldest daughter, and we talked about somethings she was afraid of which were holding her back. She was thoughtful and honest with herself as we talked. It was a challenging and intense conversation. I was incredibly proud of her for the awareness and insight she had for a 9-year-old. I was amazed by what she uncovered about fearing what others thought of her and her ability to accomplish the things she really wanted. She had such clarity after the conversation about what she was going to tackle and go after. It was inspiring to listen to, and it is fantastic to watch her do it!

I think back to my 10-year-old self and wish I had tapped into the insight and reflection capabilities of my oldest daughter. I would have emerged from that trying year differently. I wish I had trusted my mom more to divulge the pain I was experiencing. While there might not have been much for her to do to change the kid’s behaviors, she could have helped me navigate the year differently.

Message to my daughters: There isn’t any meaning in a name except for what you give it. It isn’t about what others think or say; it is instead about what you believe about yourself. Love yourself, believe in yourself, and respect yourself! Follow the guidance from Morgan Haper Nichols, a writer, artist, and musician, “know your worth, hold your own power, be you."

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