Thoughts on a man…duh

No… not that kinda man.

We’re talking about my name. Amanda. Mand. Mandy. Manders. Manduhhhh. All of the above.

My first introduction to my “identity” was when I was about four. I consider this my first “memory” as it was the first flash in a dark world of nothing that I sustained. I looked in the mirror and recognized myself, thinking, “yeah, it makes sense that I look like that…although I do look somewhat plain.” I had a round face, brown hair, and looked altogether forgettable, in my opinion, but I also cemented that it was me. 

My name is Amanda.

For years, I considered my name to be also ordinary and plain. And no– I’ve never heard the jokes before that say I’m “A man, duhhhH! Haha! Get it? You’re a man! DUH!”

I was like, this is the most un-pretty name ever. Why could I not be Skylar, or Charlotte, or something like that? Amanda seemed so neutral and almost masculine in sound.

Uh. Man. Duh.

All my other classmates had names like named Jessica, Laura or Lauren, Katie/Katy/Katherine/Catherine/Catie, and the boys were typically biblical (Ben, Michael, Matt, John, David). Pretty easy. Until I was older, I didn’t realize just how many Amandas were in my classes and life. My name literally is a product of the times and you know that any Amanda was born between 1980 and 1990.

It caused a problem because I didn’t understand where the name came from. In school, I had to look it up and find the meaning. Simple enough. It means: “worthy of love.” But what does that really mean? And where did it originate?

Well, according to my favorite names website, Behind the Name, it originated from the latin “Amandus,” which also means “worthy of love.” Amandus was a male, late Roman – medieval name. However, Amanda wasn’t used until the 17th century, when some “playwrights” created a feminized form using the latin word amanda, meaning “lovable.” I’m assuming it was symbolic. But it really skyrocketed in the 19th century (apparently it was a popular name in the 1890s) and then declined before hitting a peak again in the 1980s-90s and finally declining. According to this article, Amanda is the 2nd fastest declining name (Marissa is number one) between 2003 and 2013. Gotta make room for all those Isabellas, I guess.

Simply, it means “lovable,” or “worthy of love.” The problem I have with those is 1) Am I really? and 2) Those are two completely different things. Being lovable simply means one is easy to be loved. It is easy to love a lovable person because they are often sweet, beautiful, kind, and compassionate. However, being “worthy of love” is not the same meaning. I see it more as a declaration: I am incredible, wonderful, proud and I am WORTHY to be truly loved. And that speaks for itself. It’s more self confident, more powerful, and much less passive than simply someone noting in passing — “oh, that Amanda girl is so lovable.” I mean, I’m certainly lovable. But I also have worth.

Someone once wrote a letter after a particular breakup to some particular people in my life telling them that the breakup would be terribly hard on me, that I needed to be kept safe because I would no longer feel loved or feel as though I had any worth without him in my life. To that I say: nothing. Because I have worth — a lot of it! And I had that worth and I had people in my life who truly loved me even back then. And while I have enough worth to be loved (hi, Patrick), I also know that I have worth in other ways; I am in grad school, working two jobs, working on my dream career, committed to my workout regimen, and dedicate time to my family and friends. I am moving in with my boyfriend, because I am worthy of his love, and he is proud of my accomplishments and those to come.

And I have all of this — and a lot more — because of WHO I am and WHAT I have accomplished — despite anyone else.

So to wrap it all up — it’s interesting that a name can have such in-depth meaning, yet sound so mundane when you’re growing up with it. I hear my name every day, write it down on a piece of paper, have it on a nametag, use it to sign into my computer and emails. Put it on job applications and tell it to those who ask. So what does it really all mean? Well, someone decided to name me Amanda because they liked it (hi, Mom and Dad) or maybe liked the meaning. So let’s say they liked the meaning; I guess they had confidence that I would always feel loved and have worth, regardless of where I was in life. That is true.

It also is a rapidly declining name. Which is just a fact. Names come and go, and popularity fluctuates. Names, as we know, are a fad just as fleeting as any pop culture phenomenon. My friends’ daughters will not be named Ethel, Betty, Mildred, Susan, Nancy, or Henrietta. They will be Ava, Madison, Mackenzie, Alexandra, Isabella, and Sophia. Maybe Amanda will come around again in another 100 years, or maybe we’ll be so far into the future that our kids will be named Sarzenza and Adominica. Who knows?

I do know another thing — this article lists “most attractive names,” starting with the U.S. and going on to other countries. How? In a study, the dating app “Happn” released the names of girls that men deemed most attractive — and who had the most dates. Out of the girls, Amanda was first on their list — or, at least, I like to think so, out of the top four girls’ names.

I do have a thing for the name Alexandra, though.

Keep it real, and to thine own self (and name) be true. 

2 responses to “Thoughts on a man…duh

  1. Interesting sociological tangent: When I taught college freshman, I found that about 10-15% of the girls would creatively change the spelling of their names (indicating perhaps some dissatisfaction with the given name). I can’t remember a boy student ever doing the same. Does this say something about our culture and/or about male/female development? Are girls taught to be more self-conscious? Or are they simply more willing to express creativity while boys are more fearful of doing something “cute”? Honestly, I have no idea, but it’s interesting.

    • That is really interesting! I suppose there could be a number of reasons for it, but I’m sure it comes down to the individual and her motives. I’m sure there were some creative girls out there that wanted to express a new identity (especially being freshmen in college). To be honest, I doubt boys thought about or even cared about their given names — nevermind altering them.

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