Ever since I can remem­ber, I’ve been called “Cathy” … except, at times, when my par­ents were try­ing to get my atten­tion and, I sup­pose, I wasn’t responding…then I would hear, “Catharine!”  I do like Catharine, but never insisted peo­ple call me that name.  Over the years, friends have given me other nick­names, so Catharine always seemed a bit formal.

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  • Like many of the essay­ists in Women, Their Names, and the Sto­ries They Tell, Cathy men­tions that her par­ents used her given name when they were angry. Parental usage of the given name to express dis­plea­sure may explain why some women never grow into their given names, which become asso­ci­ated sub­con­sciously with fail­ure and shame. The asso­ci­a­tion of the given name with parental dis­ap­proval may also help explain why some chil­dren never want to grow up—they asso­ciate their grown-up names with trou­ble. Do you have any mem­o­ries like these?

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