8 Struggles Of Having A Unique First Name

Whatever your name may be, carry it proudly like a badge of honor.
Raise your hand if you ever felt personally victimized by Starbucks. 
Raise your hand if you ever felt personally victimized by Starbucks. 

When the world was dramatically changed for good upon my birth, a name was given to me that was anything but textbook: Natalya. I was named after the Van Morrison song of a more American spelling (Natalia), but since I am of [distant] Ukrainian descent, the “i” was replaced with a “y.”

Not surprisingly, years of misspellings, mispronunciations and just missed things in general ensued. And although I absolutely adore my name and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, the below points would be an injustice not to share, especially with those who have never met anyone with the same spelling or pronunciation as their name (it’s an awesome feeling, really).   

Here are the very real, albeit first world, struggles of having an exclusive epithet on your birth certificate.

1. Your teacher could never pronounce your name in attendance.

Instead of facing that long lapse of awkward silence that followed when your name was about to be called, you just stood up and saved the teacher trouble. Few things in life are as painful as watching someone concentrate so damn hard on your name when you know it’s going to get butchered no matter how hard they try.

2. You will never find your name on a key chain.

 You will also never find it on a mug, pen, t-shirt, or pretty much anywhere in a souvenir shop. If you want it to happen, you’ll probably have to customize it, which is anything but cheap. Or, if you’re like me, your father can buy you and your sister a key chain that doesn’t say your name but because you can’t read yet, you have no idea and stick it on your backpack anyway.

My childhood was a lie.

3. Everyone calls you the wrong name.

You’ve accepted it by now, and respond to any slight deviation of your name. I get whiplash turning around at any mention of “Natalie” or “Natasha” because I’ve been called that so many times (I got called “Sharon” once, but that’s a different story).

What’s even worse is if you answer that person only to find out that they are calling someone who is actually named after that deviation. Ouch.

4. You have various nicknames.

My seven letter name apparently is too difficult to remember, so I go by “Nat” or “Tal” (never “Ya”). There’s a couple expletives in my list of never-ending sobriquets, but I’ll spare you all. Unless you meet me, that is.  

 

Whatever your name may be, carry it proudly like a badge of honor. Especially as you ice your whiplash sipping from a misspelled latte.

 

5. You’re on a last name basis. 

If your last name is easier to pronounce than your first name, you can count on this one for a fact. My 5 foot, under 100 lb. frame was lumped in with the hefty football players in high school, at least according to my last moniker: Jones. And then the witness protection jokes started (rolls eyes).

6. Your name is spelled wrong.

 All. The. Damn. Time. You even stopped correcting the barista at Starbucks because it was so “younique” (get it?), albeit useless.

7. Introductions are strange. 

There is a slightly uncomfortable beat of silence that follows when you first introduce yourself to someone. First comes the head tilt, and then moving lips as the person you’re introducing yourself to silently repeats your name back to themselves. Lastly comes the pity compliment of, “What a pretty name” or “How unique.”

You can guess who genuinely likes your name and who doesn’t.

8. People are shocked when your middle and last names are relatively normal/common.

Let me elucidate this point with a real life example:

Client at a meeting: Your first name is so exotic and foreign. What’s your last name?

Me: Jones.

Client at a meeting: [laughs] No, really – what is your last name?

Me: [death stare] Jones.

I decided to spare him the fact that my middle name is Marie.

Whatever your name may be, carry it proudly like a badge of honor. Especially as you ice your whiplash sipping from a misspelled latte.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Celebrities' Real Names
CONVERSATIONS