I have been called or referred to in variations of this name for 35 years, 1 month and 18 days.
It is probably one of the first words I learnt, yet what does it mean? Why is it so important?
‘Michelle is a given name, originally the French feminine form of Michel, from the Hebrew name Michael meaning “Who is like God?”. It is now extensively used in English-speaking as well as French-speaking countries. ‘
To discover a bit more of the personal motivation behind the name, I sent my mom a few messages over WhatsApp. In these messages, I asked her why she chose the name and when she decided it was the right name. Another question I was curious about and enquired was if there were ever any other options for who I would be.
She read an article in which the following statement was made: ‘If you ever name your daughter Michelle please tell her that the spelling of her name will always be hell.’
A truer word has never been spoken. I always spell my name out for someone new who has to write it. To me it is personally offensive to spell someone’s name wrong, or to assume the correct spelling of a name and be mistaken; and I don’t know if another name exists with so many varieties and different spellings as my moniker.
My mom had always liked the name and after I was born and we had met, she was sure it was the right name for me. She believes you should meet the baby before settling on a specific name as you will know what the baby should be called when you meet them and get to know them.
Michelle. Michele. Michell. Mishelle, Mishell, Michèl, Michèlle, Michellè, Michél. Michéll. These are what I remember off the top of my head, but there may be more. Such a versatile name and so many ways of writing it. As a Michelle myself, I have always been interested in the different variations of the name and why it exists. When searching the name, I realized how truly universal it is. Aside from the French, many other nationalities across the globe have their own variation and where it derives from.
From my research I also found that it was a very popular name in the seventies, I had mistakenly assumed that it was a popular name in the eighties. The reason for this assumption was the many Michelle’s that I had around me at school. Growing older, they became fewer and I less often had the conversation of how does one spell your name? As an adult, I find I do not know or have other Michelle’s in my life anymore. The ones I knew in school have all gone different ways and we were never close at the time.
My closest connection to Michelle now is my goddaughter who has my name as her middle name. The best definition of my name has to be from Urban Dictionary, as I feel parts of it is describing me and my goddaughter personally. ‘Michelle: A beautiful name for a (young) beautiful girl. She is outgoing, very funny (or tries to be), and has a unique style. She is also very lovable, but can be awkward at times. She is the type of person you can easily get along with. She will be there to comfort her friends when they need it. She has a gift of discernment, meaning she knows when something is up. She has a great voice, but is shy to show it to the world. She needs more confidence. Also, she can be very hyper at times. Even with her flaws, she is still perfect because the amount of flaws she has cannot compare to her flawlessness.’ If you know me well, you will know which parts of that description I attribute to myself.
Throughout my life I have asked to be known by some shortened versions of this name, currently going by MiSh. I feel a more secure connection to Michelle now that I have written this post. I have always loved my name, but now I feel that I can truly revel in the name and make a statement with it.
I am Michelle!