Right now, it's hard for me to connect with the little girl who absolutely loathed her name. But that's what I was. For years, I dreamed of being called the same name as whomever I hero-worshipped at that point - "Elaine" after this girl who worked at the stables I went to every week, I remember, when I was about 6 and thereafter I can't really, but it wasn't Grace. My mother and her friends despaired. How could I want such names when I was so lucky to have such a pretty and unusual name? And therein lay the problem, at least in part. It shouldn't matter that the only people you knew with your own name were old ladies, but when everyone else associated it with them, and let you know, it wasn't so much fun.
Then something changed. I have no idea how or why or when, but at some point in my teens, it stopped bothering me. Perhaps when I went to secondary school and met another Grace, two years older. I then became a bit more protective of it, and started huffing and puffing when every time I went to the doctor's surgery, I would hear the name called and assume it was me, but it was directed to a child under five, and not me.
And then I grew to love it. And I really, truly do. I think it's a genuinely lovely name. It is elegant, and short and sweet. It is feminine and strong simultaneously. Whatever that means. It's fairly rare, at least for women of my age, and so I feel that I get to truly inhabit and make it my own. And then there are amazing namesakes, like Grace Kelly and Grace Jones,* who get to be so utterly different and yet it is not surprising that each has that name.
Although I think the real transformation was when I realised that, bizarrely, my name meant the same as my mother's. Which just feels right - a continuation of her, but as my own person. I love it.
* And it would include Grace Slick if she hadn't reformed Jefferson Airplane and did that horrendous Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. Although if I'm named after anyone, that's her, so... better to think of her in the White Rabbit days.