“If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not so very long after beginning my employment with a sprawling healthcare facility, I discover that a few of the staff members have been using the nickname, “Granola Girl,” when referring to me.
Though fairly innocuous, I find the label and the idea of being nicknamed problematic because of the images the name conjures up for me—images with which I do not readily identify—as well as raising the larger issue of being disempowered because I have not been involved in my own naming. “Granola Girl” is not a label I would choose for myself. Yet, here the label is, staring me full in the face.
At home, in an effort to work through my reaction to this news, I call an old friend for another perspective.
“Granola Girl?” my friend shouts into the phone, crossing the miles of airspace between us with an emotional explosion of righteous indignation. Then she plows forward, “You’re darn right you’re ‘Granola Girl.’ If you hadn’t been, you’d never have made it this far.”
Her words give me pause. I am grateful for the fact that my friend has retained enough of her personality’s righteous indignation so that I might continue my attempts at dismantling my own.
“Yes, I suppose that is true,” I answer hesitantly. “It is true that I eat properly. My sensitivities require it. I guess I am having trouble with the attributes which might be associated with such a nickname. You know….”
“I think you should own it,” my friend breaks in flatly. “If you work there long enough, it will fall away, be modified, qualified or stick.” She continues, “Don’t put any more energy into what other people think about you. You are there to put in your time and pick up your check.”
Emotions aside, this is the grounding reminder I need.
“Yes, thank you for that,” I answer. “I guess I feel that we should each retain the right to name or label ourselves. At least that is how I would have things function in my ideal world.”