You may have noticed I go by “The Bradford.” This is not a reflection of an inflated ego.
There is a story behind everything.
When I was a young scholar on my first day of first grade I remember the teacher calling out my name, “Bradford Bordini.” Some kids laughed. They must not have heard such a wonderful name before. Unfortunately, I did not see it this way back then.
For years to come I became embarrassed whenever teachers would call out my full name on the first days of school. It became so conditioned in me that I would try to time when the teachers would call my name so that I could say, “Brad…just Brad. Here.” The funny part is that no one really cared but me. Many things in life work this way. We are not the center of the universe despite what our brains sometimes trick us into believing…especially when we are anxious. Regardless, I hated my own name.
Fast forward to more recent times. My wife started to notice that people mistakenly would call be “Bradley” and I would never correct them. She started to correct people much to my dismay. I would tell her that it wasn’t a big deal.
Hold on – my name isn’t a big deal?
That’s like saying it’s okay for someone to call me Susan or lamppost or monkey (although, if you know me I wouldn’t mind being called monkey as I tend to say this word frequently – it brings me joy for some reason). Your name is a big deal. Period.
I realize in retrospect that my parents would use my full name when I did something wrong. I see now that there was a negative tied to Bradford. It meant I was upsetting my loved ones. I was doing something wrong.
I was being singled out. I didn’t like being singled out. In fact, I continue to work on fully embracing being seen. I used to get so weirded out running into patients in public. Despite having a popular NFL team, Green Bay is not a large city and it is highly likely I will run into a friend or patient when I go out in public. I realized I had separated my professional self from my personal self. I was trained to do so. But this is not how humans work.
We can’t deny parts of ourselves because we believe we are supposed to have compartmental lives. This is my work self – always professional and put together without any problems with my kids acting out of control or my wife wanting to kill or divorce me, whichever comes first, when I make some impulsive comment or have a tantrum.
This is my athletic self – I run 5 miles a day and never eat ice cream 3 scoops at a time. This is me with family – always hugging and smiling and calm like the Brady Bunch. This is me with the guys – always macho and never willing to admit that I watched The Notebook with my wife and may have laughed and even shed a tear or more.
Sure, it starts out with just a little mixup over a name but it really is about an identity. Therefore, what’s in a name? Everything that you decide to put into it.
I accept that I make mistakes. I accept that I was too passive to correct people when they would call me Bradley. I accept that I have struggled with my identity as I have grown into my various roles. But, I have worked hard to know who I am now and I will continue to do so. That is why I now accept myself as Bradford.
The most important thing a person can do in life is to love the self first.
It is only then that we will be open and authentic with others, available to appreciate them fully without concern for judgement, rejection, or pain. We can be free to see the beauty in others while still holding on to the beauty in us. Know yourself first in order to love yourself.
Take some time to celebrate the greatness that is in you.
Be mindful of times when you feel insecure and ask yourself why you are feeling this way. Is this something from the past? Is it that I have a false belief, like my backside is the size of movie theater or that no one likes me and I need to go eat worms? We have false beliefs all the time that can consume us if we don’t catch and release them. Identify the opposite of the belief and choose to say the loving message over and over to yourself. Write it down on a post-it and read it throughout the day. Share the loving thought with someone else. Be seen. Be heard. Be great like you always are. An artist can paint a masterpiece but it only becomes great when others can see it. Be the masterpiece.