I was sitting around with a group of friends recently and one of them asked, “What name would you give yourself that would immediately telegraph to other people who you are?” My daughter hates those kind of games, but I think they’re fun. They usually reveal more about a person than he or she might otherwise divulge.
My friend didn’t mean a nickname like “Bud” or “Missy,” but rather something like The Dog Whisperer, The Hammer, The Terminator, The Situation or The Donald. Most of us immediately know the people behind those monikers. Their “names” have turned them each into an instantly recognizable personal brand in a culture where it’s tough to stand out.
Michael Sorrentino was an unemployed fitness center manager and sometime underwear model when he was plucked from obscurity to appear on the reality show Jersey Shore. His role on the show? To be himself. Somewhere along the way he began calling himself The Situation. I don’t know why. I don’t watch the show. I just read about him in the paper or online. I suspect he wanted to set himself apart from all the other colorful characters on the show.
It worked. The Situation became fodder for late night comic monologues and talk around the office water cooler. It also earned him a cool $5 million last year and guest spots on just about every major talk show on television, just for being a guy from Jersey. Now who’s laughing?
I decided my name should be The Talker (cue laughter from my friends). I come by the title honestly. Everyone in my family is a talker. Growing up, the only time it was quiet in our house was when no one was home!
What would you call yourself? We often give ourselves names that are more painful than colorful–names like Failure, Idiot, Ugly or Stupid.
Names matter. They stick. They can hurt, even if we only say them to ourselves. They can alter how we feel about ourselves and life, which can set in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychologists say if you believe a lie long enough, it becomes your truth. Even Dr. Phil says, “We generate the results in life that we think we deserve.”
The outlook immediately improves when you bring Jesus into the mix. He knows who we are, where we’ve been, and what we’ve done and He loves us anyway. He may not have been happy with all our choices. But because of what He did on the Cross—settling our account with God so we could have a clean slate—we were all given new names–names like Forgiven, Beloved, Treasured Child and Friend.
I’m still The Talker, but now I’m The Forgiven Beloved Talker. And now I have something a lot more interesting to talk about than The Situation.