“I hate it,” he said with a groan. “It sounds so basic. We should name her something more classic.”
“Basic!” my mother exclaimed. “It’s beautiful! And it rolls off the tongue well! Besides, if we name her Brooke she’ll have the same initials as you.”
Picking his battles, my father sighed and relented. A small change but an integral one, causing a ripple in time, in what was meant to be. A girl’s life forever altered because of a name.
Every year she was seated at the front of the class next to other students with names that began the alphabet. She sat next to Billy and Brittany and Brody and Bailey, her social circle defined by a letter.
Teachers could watch over her closely and coax her to participate. Her thoughts and ideas were rewarded, resulting in confidence and pride. Her B-named friends encouraged her to try out for sports teams and teased her when she was shy. Bolstered by their laughter, she glided past embarrassment and embraced her role as Entertainer. Life became dictated by the pursuit of drama, humour and attention, her class always a captive audience.
In Junior High she excelled, teachers grateful for an engaged student. She formed clubs and ran track, her face splashed across the pages of the yearbook. She was well-known and well-liked, with many achievements to point to.
Girls with blonde hair and bold smiles looked to her as a guide and shadowed her actions. She was a leader and she knew it. They wore training bras, pierced ears and a faint disdain for the ‘uncool’. Friday nights were spent in hot tubs, boys and girls moving the needle of innocence through nervous games of Truth or Dare.
In High School, experiments were conducted with weed and vodka, older brothers invited to hang. She thought of herself as worldly and ‘experienced’, confident in her ability to navigate the unknown.
Boyfriends came and went, she couldn’t commit to one guy. Why should she? Life was meant to be enjoyed, every day an opportunity to try something new. Her parents bragged to their friends. She was their perfect prize. Her accomplishments and constant smile indicated their superiority. They had created the better child.
She spent her summers interning, shadowing her friends’ parents, an executive in the making. She watched and learned everything, biding her time. When graduation came, she had the best reply. “I’m spending the summer in California working for a tech-start up. Then I’m going to New York City for college.”
Her peers would feel extreme envy, but would also wish her the best. It seemed obvious that Brooke would be doing those things. She had proved her inherent worth. She would never question her abilities and her right to exist in a space. Her steps would be guided by her past achievements, with no reason to doubt herself.
Her potential was unavoidable. Her future so very bright. Since birth, she had been set up for success. Her parents had named her Brooke.
When facing hard times and not knowing which path to take, I sometimes wonder what I would do if my parents had named me Brooke. Would I be able to take the bolder path without looking back? Would I still be limited by my anxieties and fears? Perhaps not.
So I ask myself during these times of insecurity and self-doubt, “What would Brooke do?”