My birth name “Joan” means “god’s gracious” in Hebrew. Having grown up in a Christian background, I have been given a name that reflects my family’s faith. The name “Joan” is related to several different variants, such as “Joanna,” or “Joanne.” Although I go by the name “Joanne,” “Joan” is my birth name.
Many children, having grown up in a Christian household, have a Biblical name. There are many biblical names, such as “Hannah,” “David,” “Paul.” My name happened to be a less well known name. Although there is a “Joanna/Johanna” mentioned in the Bible, the name “Joan” is mainly used by historical figures and Popes. There is the “Joan of Arc,” who was also nicknamed the “Maid of Orleans.” Although having a name can produce a nickname and different meanings and background info about a person, there is still something special about one’s given name.
Having had a bad relationship with my birth mother, the name “Joan” became unappealing to me, the moment I found out it was my birth name. I have always asked teachers since grade school to change my name to “Joanne.” A name that is not “Joan.” Although I have always used the name “Joanne” in school settings and when going through a legal document, I would always see the name “Joan” printed in fine black letters, reminding me of my hatred for my birth mother and the nonexistent relationship we have.
My mother and father were divorced when I was three, so I had barely any contact with my birth mother. Although there were times, when my father made me see my mother, I always preferred not to. Just as there was a nonexistent relationship between my birth mother and I, there was one between me and my birth name. Even though I would have the name “Joan” used in legal documents and school related papers and attendance, I would always add an extra “N” and an “E” to my name, when paperwork was over.
I add an extra “N” and an “E” to my name, just as how I want to add more things to my life to erase my memory of my mother. Everytime I am writing “Joanne” instead of “Joan” on a worksheet or on a card, I am trying to renew my life as “Joanne,” not “Joan.” “Joan” was me when I was trying to get over the memories of my birth mother, but “Joanne” shows a more confident, accomplished version of me, who has moved on with her life, in her own way.
I would say it is symbolic how adding a few letters can change the meaning of my name. Although both “Joan” and “Joanne” are derived from the same place, “Joanne” holds a more brighter, futuristic meaning to me. I add an extra “N” and an “E” to give life to my new name, which doesn’t include my birth mother. “Joanne” doesn’t include the presence of my birth mother, whereas the name “Joan” does. And I prefer the former.