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CEYC Names Narrative: Eric

Written by: Eric Yan | Edited by: Sithara Naidoo


Names are a strange phenomenon; they serve the practical function of identifying individuals, yet develop a transcendent impact on one's identity over time (unfortunately so much that English teachers spend hours talking about their significance in literature). Personally, I think a name says inherently little about an individual, but quite a bit about those who named them and their circumstances, the underlying structures, if you will. After all, when a child is given a name, they rarely embody the symbolic, personal, or mythological meanings behind that name. Rather, a name reflects the desires and feelings of those who gave the name at a certain point in their lives.


Although I originally had and still frequently use a Chinese name, it is my English name that I most identify with. My name, Eric, is typically associated with strength and resilience in a literary/historical sense, often being translated from Old Norse as ‘eternal ruler, ever powerful’. This name was given to me just before my family immigrated to Canada, and as most immigrants would say, such a move requires a significant amount of strength and resilience. Furthermore, my parents were both exceptional athletes when they were younger, manifesting a similar yet different kind of strength and resilience. With these pieces of context in mind, it becomes obvious that my four year old self was not named ‘Eric’ for prodigal leadership skills or as an homage to the ancient Norse tradition. My parents chose this name to represent values important to them; both literal strength in athletics and metaphorical strength in being future immigrants.


This isn’t to say that one does not grow into their names; I find that many peers demonstrate the values traditionally associated with their names. In fact, I’d like to think that I manifested at least the physical elements of my name during my brief competitive swimming career. However, if you consider that a name is an endowment of past legacy, current happenings, and future prospects, you might find more profound meanings to such a seemingly arbitrary series of letters.


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