N is for Name

I think a lot of people dislike their first (given) name. I know I do! Come to think of it, the only person I could think of that actually loves their name is my sister. She was given a very different name for the time, it is very pretty, and it is not spelled the same way as some girls born about 10 years later, when it became a tad more popular.

My sister was about three when I was born and my parents were kicking around names for me in the months leading up to my birth. They were pretty sold on naming me after my dad (so I would be the fourth, the IV!) or a very different feminine version of the name, not the obvious one. When it turned out I was a little girl child, they began having second thoughts. What if they had another baby and that one was the long-awaited boy, the “Junior’s Junior’s Junior’s Junior?” While they were debating my annoying 3-year old sister pipes up with the name of a friend, and my parents indulged her. So it is her fault that I am named this name that everyone has, that is the second most popular name of girls born at the same time as me, and that does not suit me at all. It just doesn’t. I know a good many of my name twins — I can’t go anywhere without being “this Michele”, or “that Michele”, or “the other Michele”, or “Our Michele”, or “John’s Michele”, or “Michele with 1 L” — and it seems to suit every single one of them better than it does me. Do I sound like a brat? I don’t care.

A few years ago my stepson saw me walking in the mall alone and was shouting my name for like 5 minutes before I ever acknowledged him. I just always assume people aren’t calling me unless I’m with someone and we’ve gotten separated. This has been my rant for as long as I can remember, probably 33 of my 40 years on the planet have been spent complaining about my name.

And, I’m not totally happy with my last name either. No one can spell it, and they look intimidated when we say it before spelling it. The first half of it is part of a girl’s first name that suits me better, and everyone ends up making a mistake and calling me that. I’m serious! It’s the weirdest thing. Everywhere I work and every classroom I’ve ever been in, at least one person makes this mistake at some point early on, and then everyone else grabs onto it as a way to differentiate me from the other ‘Michele’s. I don’t get it, and I’ve stopped questioning it now.

If the list of names for all the people in the classroom is last name first, first name second, why would they switch when they got to me all the way down near the end of the alphabet, and then continue the last couple of names back to the proper way? Why would the sign on my cubicle or the naming convention of my email at work be different than yours, or any of our co-workers? I’m not special!

Does this happen to anyone else? It’s not like my last name is “Taylor” or “Morgan” and everyone mistakes it for my first name. My last name would be very misspelled for a first name even if you lopped off the last three letters. So, they aren’t just “looking at it quick” and making the mistake. And this happens to no other female in my family. Maybe once or twice someone has done this to my sister or aunts, but with me, it is all the time. All through school, and all through my career, and anywhere I go where they call your name. EVERY TIME. I just answer to it. It’s easier, and I like that name better anyway.

I joke all the time that when we get married and I change my last name anyway (4 letters, yippeeee!) I may as well go all the way and change my first name, too. I see nothing wrong with this idea, though my family, bestie and honey think it’s weird. But hey, THEY DON’T really call me by my name anyway, so why the big fuss? I mean, who calls their siblings by their full name all the time? Whose husband calls them by their name and not a pet name? Whose parents and longtime friends don’t have nicknames for them? Not mine.

I think I’m going to do it.


5 thoughts on “N is for Name

  1. I think you should do whatever you like; change both names if that makes you happy. You could also create a new first name you love and just call it your nickname and tell people that is what you prefer. I did this for one year and then switched back as I didn’t like my new name. (however I was in grade 9 too) Cheryl


  2. I never liked my real name, which is the next-most common female name in history after only Mary, across numerous languages. Even Mary seems more original these days, after so long of being lesser-used. I love my surname, which is Slovakian and very rare. As a proud second-generation Lucy Stoner (a woman who keeps her surname after marriage), I’ll have the same surname throughout my whole life, even if many people mangle my surname into McCormack. MacCormick, Womack, Mermack. Wormack, etc. It’s not my problem if they can’t pronounce a rather straightforward surname.

    I use a pseudonym because I hate having a name that’s more common than dirt, and because my surname doesn’t sound very glamorous or writer-y. It’s fine for my non-writer life, but it’s not the name I want on books.


    • I know, it’s been a long time since I met anyone named Mary. Maybe 15 or 20 years ago? We should put word out that this is the “it” name now, and celebrities will stop naming their kids after fruit, map directions, and superheroes.


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