In a small town, your last name is a powerful thing. It is your identity, label, and place in the town’s social pecking order of importance. If your ancestors were amazing people then so are you, giving you a “rock star” persona without having earned it. Nice right? Except, the flipside is also true. If somewhere in the past an ancestor screwed up, the event will haunt your family name forever.
I understood this early on while growing up in my small town. People were never satisfied with knowing my name, they always wanted qualifiers too. “Oh, are you so-and-so’s granddaughter?” And at times it was embarrassing, especially when meeting someone who felt my father had stood her up over twenty years ago.
It wasn’t until I left that I learned to appreciate this quirky side of small town living. Knowing I was a “somebody” with an ancestry to uphold definitely curbed any wild inclinations I might have had. I didn’t want to be the ancestor that screwed up.
Here in the big city, in a sea of “nobodies”, it’s easy to think we can do as we please. How could it possibly matter? By tomorrow, no one will remember my actions anyway. Yet, even here we are “some-bodies”—somebody’s future mother, father, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. Like it or not, what you do with your life will affect them. Give them a name they can be proud of.