I have a confession to make.
Most people don’t know my name.
The federal government does. And the people at the bank. And my parents.
Most people know me as “Candi.” But that isn’t my real name.
My husband’s best friend asked me recently, “So how did your parents come up with the name ‘Candi’? Is it short for ‘Candace’ or does it just stand on its own?”
I was surprised at how shocked he looked when I said, “None of those are my actual name.”
My mother wanted to name me “Cassandra Michelle” because she read it somewhere and thought it was a beautiful, powerful name. When discussing the beautiful, powerful name with her mother and her sisters, they said, “That name’s too long. It needs to be shorter.”
So, my mom says, she “gave in” and said, “Fine, then. Her name will be Cassandra Jo.”
After I was born, my aunts wanted to call me “Cassie” for two reasons: it was shorter than “Cassandra,” and everyone in our family had a nickname. My parents didn’t like the name “Cassie,” which created a quandary for the family women-folk. My grandmother decided the matter:
“We’ll call her ‘Candi.’ What else are you gonna call nine pounds of sugar?”
So, my confession to you is this: most of the world knows me as “Candi.”
When I began blogging in the Chosen Families community, I was given the option to blog anonymously or as myself. I guess I chose something in between the two. I soon became uncomfortable writing as only “Cassandra.” I felt like I was keeping a secret.
I’ve wondered many times why my given name was such an anathema to me. (My husband, reading over my shoulder, said, “Anathema? Really? Like it was the worst possible thing that could happen to you? Your name?”)
Yes. When the teacher called the roll on the first day of school, and she said, “Cassandra” with my last name, I would quickly correct her—“Um, it’s Candi”—and slide down, wanting to hide under my desk.
I don’t know why that is.
So here I am, in my 50s, and I’m still tussling with my first name. Cassandra, or Candi? I didn’t choose either one for myself. Of course, the burning struggle underneath the seemingly unimportant question of proper name or nickname is “Who am I really?”
I have lots of names: wife, mom, sister, writer, reader, musician, genealogist, teacher, friend, neighbor, Cassandra, Candi…the list can go on if I think hard enough. I think of these names as hats I wear. Some hats can be worn simultaneously. Others, not so much. Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing so many hats that if I put one more on my head, they will either all come crashing down around me, or the sheer weight on my head will unbalance me and topple me over.
Too many names and not enough being.
I’m waiting with anticipation to see what name Jesus gives me, the name engraved on the white stone He will give me, the name only He and I will understand (see Revelation 2:17).
Until then, you can call me Candi. Or Cassandra. Or, as my daughter’s friend used to call me, “Mrs. Cami’s Mom.” Any of those will do.
They all mean me.
*An earlier draft was first published at ChosenFamilies.org on January 13, 2013.