Given at Birth

tilt shift lens photography of woman wearing red sweater and white skirt while holding a boy wearing white and black crew neck shirt and blue denim short
Photo by Nicholas Githiri on

My name, you ask?

Frankly, I don’t know. At some point, it was Nicholas- victor of the people, proud and resilient but also one of the most common male names on the planet!

I asked my mother once, maybe twice, why she’d given me such a name.

The question came from the fact that the rest of my siblings and mother all had names that sounded with a “Kah”.

Crystal, Christopher, Keaira, Kamarion and then there was Nicholas. I thought I might be a good Calvin or maybe even a Kevin but mom thought differently. So there I was, fresh out the womb with Nicholas stamped on my forehead.

But somewhere along the way it just didn’t fit anymore. My sister, Keaira, still looked like a Keaira, and Chris still looked like a Chris and then there I was. A person with a name that looked nothing like me and it’s on every document known to man which makes it legally binding.

Truth is, I’ve never been a fan of my name. I’ve always felt it was too basic for a personality like mine and my middle name was too “ghetto” for a kid with my interest.

That’s where it started. I changed my middle name first. I realized that people only knew you by the name you gave them, thus I could choose whatever that was.

So, I changed my middle name to Devaughnt. It sounded regal, a bit majestic, atypical to say the least and finally a step in the right direction. Telling people that my middle name was Devaughnt made them shutter with enthusiasm for such a unique but respectable name.

I thought it would end there and for a short while, it did.

Over time, I also noticed that when I signed my written works, rarely did I ever have a desire to sign Nicholas as the author. I soon gravitated to just my initials: N.D. and that looked regal on the page. It even had a ring to it when spoken out loud.

I didn’t realize how much of a ring it had until I filmed my horror short and one of my actors, who had never known me by Nicholas said, “Hey, N.D., it’s nice to meet you”. I couldn’t believe that he’d said it as if it was really my name, but the craziest part was, it was!

How could an abbreviation mean so much more?

I believe it was that day that I took to Facebook and changed my name to Indie Johnson (Facebook wouldn’t let me use initials, so I spelled it out). It was something about it that made me feel free. It was as if Nicholas was no longer a burden I had to carry around with me at all times.

Finally, a name that fit.

Most people don’t really grasp the importance of their name, but every blue moon, on the very rare occasion, some of us get to choose our names, which makes it something worth cherishing even more.

How amazing it is to look like your name.

I do not look like Nicholas Johnson any longer. Not that anything was wrong with him, it’s just that when I looked in the mirror, that’s not who I saw. Now I have to debate between Indie and N.D.

I like the way N.D. looks on paper but I love the way “Indie” sounds aloud, but I guess they’re one and the same.

I am choosing N.D. officially because the name my mother gave me is still present and alive. It just looks a little different. I am still the victor of the people, proud, and resilient.

I will admit that a part of me is nervous that when someone sees my initials that they will always ask what it stands for and I’d have a whole story to tell, much like this one. But the truth is, I don’t have to tell them a thing. It’s just N.D. Johnson, like J.K. Rowling,
(another famous writer whose books I have never read).

And that’s ok.

My name you ask?

N.D. Johnson, and it’s a pleasure to meet me.

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