Monday 20 December 2010


Living in a hostel for the first time and sharing a room with another person has given me new names and roles. I am a ‘roommate’ now. For the first time when she addressed me like that to her friend over the phone, I was flabbergasted. Was she referring to me? I did not intend to eavesdrop but I just wanted to know whether it was me. And indeed, it was me!

I have always loved to refer people by their names and not their roles. So when I was reduced to a mere ‘roommate,’ I must admit that I was a bit unsettled. That’s when I started rationalizing this feature of roles connected to people. It is quite natural to communicate using roles and it is just mind-boggling to know that Susan is not Susan alone but a roommate, teacher, daughter, student and so on. I cannot but think that I am many and still I am me. The whole idea seems so fascinating.

After that long thought on roles and names, I finally came to the conclusion that it is not always possible to refer to people by their names. For example, I cannot talk about my mother by referring to her by her name. I have to tell the receiver that I am talking to my mother and not …. Well, so many thoughts on roles and names.

Now, all said and done, I am your blogger-friend and not Susan. Well, I might be ‘blogger-friend, Susan’ but still . . .

So, what are you? And how do you perceive roles-names and what do you prefer to be known as? I think I can imagine your answers but I will let you speak . . .

Image: Internet


  1. (Whispering) "Hey, you.....mmm"

    Never gave this a thought until now. Of course, I shall now expound (that is all what I do!)...

    I like to be called "Hey, YOU!" Those two words may be intoned angrily, friendly, sweetly, snarly, accusingly, commandingly or just matter-of-fact.

    In using the words, I am free of ever needing to remember names.

    If there is a heaven, well then, after I die, I can hear St Pete calling out, "Hey...YOU!" (and everyone will step out of line!!!)

    And I'd probably say, "Who...ME?"

  2. i think it answers questions immediately when i say blogger friend instead of susan...but it also is open to interpretation and room mate, depending on your also makes it impersonal when i refer to you by role instead of name...

  3. I love the Don Carlo comment...yea I guess roles at a point becomes a burden...better to live in the world w/o much burden!

  4. Savira:

    Sweet Savira :) Yoga-instructor!

    Don Carlo:

    Now if there are five "Hey, you" people, Peter is going to find it difficult. And if everyone says, "Who, ME?" then I wonder . . . But I do like your sense of humour. You brought a smile here.

    Joy always.

  5. Brian:

    And the dualities go on . . .


    Isn't Carlo a delight. I loved his comment too. The burdens are our doing. There is no escape, John. Maybe in Heaven or Hell.

  6. sometimes i wonder though why a roommate is different and cannot be addressed as a friend. The fact of the matter being that 'friend' is the most harangued word today. Anybody u know these days who is not a relative is a friend. i mean that's the way it is.Sometimes even an acquaintance is a friend and other times there are those long lost classmates who thanks to the facebook reunions once again are ur friends although they could just be acquaintances.
    BTW pls find time and inclination to stop by on my posts and drop in some words...i admit i am not as brief in my ponderings but would value what u have to say.:)

  7. Hi Susan,
    I think stating a role along with the proper name is perfect because it's more personable and also opens up a topic of conversation. "oh, you're her aunt" or " you're his boss" for example.
    great post!

  8. A woman I worked with, her name is Darlene (gotta give you a name!) used to drive us crazy telling us stories where all the protagonists where known by their name. It went something like this"
    Joe told me he is not going to Mare's for Christmas. He is going to Sandy's.
    Darlene, who is Joe? Joe is Carolyn's son, the wife of Darryl.
    Who is Darryl?
    He is Joann's brother.


    I prefer roles

  9. Shivani:

    Thanks for coming by Shivani. Your long comments always delight me. I agree when you say that the word 'friend' is abused these days. At this state, language will become redundant.
    I will swing by when I can manage a few extra minutes from my deliberations of the day.


    Point taken, dear Hope. Hope you are swimming!

  10. Mryriam:

    I guess this differs from context to context. And I guess we know how to adapt.

    Joy always :)

  11. My friends address me as Mike or Michael.

    My grandson calls me "papa."

    My wife just calls me. LOL.

    Don Carlo, you are FUNNY!

  12. Oh it so much depends. At times I like to be referred to by my name, but for example, if a man I have fallen in love is introducing me as his girlfriend, I prefer that much better than just my name, as that means he has placed me into his life and is not afraid of acknowledging me that way.;))
    Have a lovely day dear friend and thank you for your always kind words at my place.;))

  13. Dear Susan, There are misfortunes that happen when we must adopt certain roles in life... and then get stuck with the tag that accompanies those roles. Yes, we all have different roles, and this is reality. But why must we be called by those names?

    I had a bit of an epiphany, a couple of years ago, right before returning home to Cairo for a visit. I realized that, because I was trying to fulfill all of the expectations that came with every role I had to play, I was never going to win at satisfying. And so, I decided to stop trying, you know. I decided to just be who I am inside myself and let the roles fall where they may. And I've had a relative amount of peace, at least with myself, since then.

    Hey, I'm Nevine, at the end of the day. Daughter or wife or teacher or whoever else. Those roles change and evolve, But Nevine will always remain. I think...

    I find myself amazed at some of the similarities in our patterns of thought, Susan. Always... I am amazed!

    Huge hugs!

  14. I like my name, but I know we are, to a large degree, defined by our roles. I guess what's important is that I know who I am, regardless of what role, or identity others impose on me.

    Thank you Susan, my blogging friend, for always coming up with these thought provoking topics.

  15. On Blogger we are called 'followers' ; it's on Facebook that people are referred to as 'friends'.

    I definitely like to be called by my name, but I won't make an issue out of it. A relative of mine , for instance, always addreses me with "dear cousin", and I don't mind, I'm even glad she emphasizes the fact that we are family (we've discovered each other through the internet several years ago).

  16. i remember just being nº 39 at primary school...
    i remmember when my ex husband called me dulce instead of love, honey and so on, it sounded weird and at the same time Wow ,great, as if my name gained meaning... when my son started to talk he called me dulce and everyone said 'hey, no, she is mami'... but i really liked he called me so...
    this is my dear friend, this is my sister, this is my (ex) teacher, this is my younger daughter, this is my cousin, my colleague.... too many things despite a name...


  17. MikeB:

    Welcome here. Joy to have you join the reflections. I love the way you said: My wife just calls me. Roles are always intertwined with our personality, I guess.

    Thanks for coming by. It is a pleasure.


    I agree with what you have said, dear Zuzana. Christmas is near and I am sure you are looking forward.

  18. Nevine:

    True. Roles are indispensable, I guess. The more I think, the more I become aware of it.

    Nevine will always remain . . . and I am glad for that :)

    I have ceased being amazed, Nevine for it has been happening more than once. Now I enjoy these points of connections and feel glad.

    Big and warm hugs.


    How simply said and conveyed. Myrna, I like your brevity: smooth and crisp. A joy to read your posts and comments, always.

  19. DUTA:

    You are a amiable person, aren't you. Nice to have people as you around.


    n 39? What is that? We are many as we are one. Mind-boggling and a wonder.

    I hope you are doing well within and outside.

    Much love.



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