What's in a name?

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” ~Romeo & Juliet, by W. Shakespeare

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” ~Romeo & Juliet, by W. Shakespeare

Whenever we change direction - change our lifestyle, job, partner, country, or home - we start to think what that change really means.

To have a certain name, lifestyle or place attached to us, is not something we often think about, right? At least, most people don’t. Yet, if we are changing anything in our lives, it also means we are changing our belief system. I don’t mean in a religious way, but changing our beliefs in ourself.

Tonight, I couldn’t stop thinking about the meaning of names and titles and the importance we put on ourselves and others.

From the moment we are born, our name is attached to us. Perhaps we’ll change it later in life by marriage or preference - but still, we have that name. It’s not who we are.

And yet, when it comes to our titles at work or as a profession, we somehow tend to put more value on this part of our lives. So many people even replace their personality and identity with their work title - it’s as if they are their work. I believe we are more than our job or whatever our work title says we are. Work is what we do. And yes, it can be a big part of our life, or even our whole lifestyle - but it doesn’t sum up who we are as human beings.

What about a change in lifestyle? Or becoming a mother? Or attending a new school? Or facing a death or illness? Or changing a career path after years of pursuing something else? What if all these circumstances, ideas and belief systems we know and are used to, change?

Will this change us? Make us a better or different person? It might be.

I couldn’t help but wonder - what do these names or titles really mean to me?

I’ve had to change and re-invent my name and title so many times, it really made me think about the value of a name, job, season in my life, or even the place I call home. What value do I attach to all of this?

“Hi! My name is Maureen Paal (years later: Bleeker Paal) and I’m from Amsterdam (or: ‘we just moved from New York/Dubai/Switzerland’ etc). We have two girls (for ten years: ‘we have one girl’) and I’m a (fill in my last full-time job title, part time job title, stay at home mum / homemaker title, or even expat / traveller / photographer / writer) - and so forth.

Do you see what I mean? So many names and titles attached to me as a person. What does that mean?

Absolutely nothing and everything.

But when I recently had to create a business card for myself - and people always (always and everywhere) ask me ‘what do you do?’ - I really wasn’t so sure what to put down in print.

I thought about all these titles and names I’ve had attached to me. Do I need to re-invent this Maureen, again? The one that now is living and working between Brighton, Amsterdam and New York? Or do I simply own up to the part of me, that has always been bringing people together, no matter where I lived. Always creating, helping, pivoting and chasing dreams, simply by being myself. I had to give myself permission to really own that part of me. Apparently I did put some value to my name when it needed to be in writing.

So I typed in my new title and took a deep breath.

‘Founder and Creative Connector’ I typed behind my old name.

Because that is something I’ve been doing naturally for years. It’s really a part of me that I can own and stand by. No matter how many changes might come my way.

So, what’s in a name?

Nothing and everything.

After all, a rose is still a rose - even if you would change its name.

I’m still me. Only now I have a lot more cards in my bag…

-* -

Thank you for being here xx