My dad was a big skier.
Growing up in a small desert town just one hour away from the magnificent Mammoth Mountain, he flew down the slopes as a kid and skipped school whenever the opportunity arose, in favor of being a ski bum.
And it looks as if his passion for skiing filtered all the way down to his kids; in particular, our names.
I’m not a skier, let’s just get that straight.
Memories of failed attempts at trying to get out of the snowplow position has forever left me leery of trying my footing on a pair of skis. Add that to my dislike for the cold and fear of falling from my height and you’ve got yourself a most content apres ski bum.
But I was named after skis.
As was my brother and sister.
Before we were born, my parents wanted names for their kids that were unique and different, not your average Tom, Dick, and Harry. So my dad, having a love and interest for the sport of skiing, suggested a few.
Sven was one. Nordica, Chamonix, and Ingemar were a few others, and after some deliberation, a name was finally picked out for me:
Named after a ski brand with the slogan Experience the Excitement! I was always pleased with my name, despite not living up to the slope expectations of a family of ski fanatics (which was mostly my dad).
Growing up with a name that did not come close to matching those of my peers was something I celebrated. I already stood out in stature, in dress, and in personality, so why not have the name to match?
What I didn’t know though, was that unbeknownst to my parents, my name eventually became something far more representative than a ski brand, for it began to epitomize who I was and who I was becoming.
The etymology of my name dates back to the 19th century. From original Latin “lanceare” meaning “to throw (a lance)”, the word “elan” was filtered down to the French version, which eventualy resulted in a a new definition meaning to spring, bound, impetus.
Upon further study, I found that my name embodied a whole lot of characteristics that beautifully matched my being.
Dash, ardor, animation, flair, pizazz, oomph, panache, spirit, style, verve, vigor, vim, zest, zing, brio, spirit, enthusiasm, distinctive and stylish elegance, all of these words described me.
All my life, I’ve believed in embracing what makes me different. When I dance, I don’t dance, I perform. When I write, I’m not just a writer, I’m a storyteller. When I talk I don’t talk, I entertain. When I dress, I don’t just put clothes on my body, I express myself.
As I become more and more fascinated with this profound association between me and my name, the more I fall in love with the title I had been graced with when I was born.
I had always loved how unique my name was, even looked forward to the botched attempts of role call and getting the opportunity to proudly correct them with the right pronunciation (I’ve gotten Ellen, Ewan, Elin, Mulan, and my favorite- Edna). Because it was as though all of my uniqueness was served with a perfectly poised and appropriate title.
I’ve recently begun to incorporate what my name means into my future, and in particular, my brand.
Not the ski brand I was named after (though how kick arse would it be to have my personal slogan be ELAN- Experience the Excitement!), but my personal brand as a writer and as a woman.
The definitions I listed above are all qualities that come from within, which is a theme of mine when it comes to self-expression and loving who you are from the inside out. To be able to have a name that’s directly in line with the qualities I embody and am passionate about is something that consciously and subconsciously keeps me on the right track with my own core personal values.
It’s turned into an embrace, a celebration, and now, an ownership.
I own my name because it reminds me of the acceptance of who I am and the celebration of all my distinctive differences.
Having elan is about having style and panache. And it doesn’t describe someone’s physical appearance, it defines characteristics that come from beneath the surface.
While I may never be the next Ingemar Stenmark, or the new Mikaela Sciffrin, I am the proud owner of the name “Elan”.
And I am really feelin’ it.
Or should I say, fe-elan it?