A note from my German consultant/boyfriend: Literary poetic license has been used in the renderings of the original German word Stille maintaining the feminine adjectival form Stille throughout even when the grammatically correct form still should be used in certain sentence constructions.
Proceed with caution, Germanophiles.
I like my name. I haven’t always.
My full name is Elizabeth Anna Grace Stille. My parents gave me both of my grandmothers’ given names as my middle names. After I was born, a nurse said to my mom, “What a long name for such a little girl.”
I used to agree with the nurse. It was too long of a name. I disliked hearing the whole dang thing at matriculation ceremonies, and I still feel slightly like I’m lying by omission when I only list “A” as my middle initial, especially since leaving out the “G” is like forgetting my paternal grandma.
What most people call me, though, is Libby. Libby Stille. It’s a little too cutesy for my taste, but then again, everyone mispronounces Stille as “still” or “style” anyway. (Technically, it’s German so it should be pronounced shtill-uh. We settle for rhyming it with silly.)
As a kid, I resented having to continuously correct people on the pronunciation. I’ve encountered a few awkward situations as an adult as well. A few years ago, a former supervisor introduced me as “Libby Still” to a new employee, and I simply nodded and smiled as she explained what I did in the company, deciding not to correct her for fear of embarrassing her.
But, during the Advent season, I remember why I like my name.
Stille is the same word as Stille in “Stille Nacht”—translated to English as “Silent Night.” Silent is not a direct translation of Stille. The word is better translated as quiet, peaceful, still, calm.
The liturgical calendar syncs up nicely with Minnesota seasons: December and Advent are often marked by quiet darkness and soft, calm snows. It’s very Stille.
Anyone who knows me knows that Stille is not a word that describes me, though. I am often worried about something, and I’m not the best at staying calm or focused. When I speak, I can get off track easily, rambling until someone steps in to shut me up. I do not find it easy to be quiet, peaceful, still, or calm.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve come to like my name. It’s not a definition of who I am. My name is a reminder: a reminder of my grandmas: strong, caring women who have worked hard and who love their families; a reminder to be gracious to others and to myself; and a reminder to calm down, to stop talking and listen, to work toward peace, to be Stille and know.
And no, you can’t call me Silly Stille.
Libby Stille (’13) lives in St. Paul and works in the marketing department of a children’s publishing company in downtown Minneapolis. She recommends that everyone visit the Twin Cities, but only between June and October, unless you enjoy subzero windchills and slipping on ice.