The Challenges of a Unique (Uneek) Name

This post is a plea to those parents in search of the most unique name for their little one. You may consider lots of things when picking a name, but after living with my very unique Gaelic name for over 35 years, here are some more things you may want to consider before saddling your child with their very own uneek name.

No one can spell my name.

No one can spell my name, not even my mother, apparently. My mother chose to change one vowel in my name. This may not have been such a big deal if my name was Brandy;

“No, no, it’s Brandi, with an ‘i’.”

I wish that was the extent of my troubles. When I speak to people on the phone, I have to spell my name multiple times. Some people think that I have spelled my own name incorrectly, and happily change it for me. Ugh.

Can you imagine my poor teachers in school? They are trying to teach me my ABCs and phonics and the letters in my name don’t even come close to the sounds they are supposed to make. Which leads me to my next issue:

No one can pronounce my name.

When I worked in customer service, my calls took at least a minute longer than my peers, because I spent extra time spelling and saying my name over and over again. And it didn’t really matter because I was called everything BUT my actual name.

In school, my teachers would go down the list, taking attendance, and I could always tell when they get to my name. The cadence of their voice grinds to a halt;

“John? Jennifer? Amy? Matt? … er… um… “

“That me.” So, I finished college and think I’ve put all that behind me. Then restaurants started asking for your first name. As people order ahead of me, no one has to spell their name to the cashier. But I do. Twice. Sigh. And it doesn’t help at all.

When my order comes up, they butcher my name anyway. It isn’t their fault. They have never seen a name like mine before. The mispronunciation of my name has been at least, and inconvenience, and at most, embarrassing. Why? Because…

I was teased for my name.

Kids can be cruel. We all know this. And they will for sure make fun of your name, even if your name is Sally, Roger or Apple. It doesn’t matter.

But I was really shy in school, and it led to many people mispronouncing my name. I just couldn’t bring myself to correct them. Even even they took my name and created a super awful rhyme that included my name and indicated that I wet my bed.

My name doesn’t rhyme with bed, but it did the way they said it. It really made me hate my name and I hated any free time at school. I heard the rhyme at least once a day, and I was miserable.

I would wish constantly that I had literally any other name. I daydreamed about changing my name when I turned 18. I wonder what types of forms I would have to fill out? It doesn’t matter, I would have to do it multiple times because something always gets left out or switched around.

My name costs me lots of time and money.

Spelling my name multiple times for cashiers, customer service reps and administrative people takes time. And I have to do it multiple times, and sometimes they still get it wrong. Sorry, if I’m a little jealous that you can walk right in and say “Mike”, and they got it.

But spelling my name multiple times doesn’t seem to help, because I’ve had to refill paperwork several times. My marriage certificate was missing a vowel. My deed to my house had some name I had never seen before. My student loan was on my credit report twice, because the agency holding it had my name spelled two different ways. I didn’t get two different checks!

It’s one thing to have your name spelled wrong on your coffee cup, but it takes time and effort to change things like your deed, and costs money too. I had to wait to close on my house while they redid all the paperwork.

Now, I really wish I had left it alone, because the worst part of having a unique name?

People can easily invade my privacy.

I bet you are wondering why, with all this complaining I’ve done, why I haven’t said in this post what this awful first name could be. The truth? I can’t.

With my first name, and my first name only, you can find out what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years and where I live. I am not a serial Facebook poster. I don’t feel the need to share pictures of my meals, or use those tools where you ‘check in’ places, so people know where you are. But because of the uniqueness of my name, the whole first page of Google results are actually me.

I feel I need to reiterate that I am in no way a famous person, related to a famous person, or even on the fringe of anything remotely famous. There are just so few people with my name. Now, remember that one vowel that my mom decided to change? That’s where this comes in to play. There are many women with the traditional spelling in Ireland and Great Britain, that would have caused me to be several pages deep on a Google result. It may have still been possible to find out information about me, but having the record of my deed on the first page of results is so stressful.

There was a time in my life that I held a protective order against my ex. I really didn’t want anyone to know where I lived. It was just dangerous and I really didn’t feel safe. It led to a time in my life that I would guard my name as if it were a key to my house. You are reading that correctly, I wouldn’t even tell people my name. If we met out, I would give a fake name, just to protect myself.

I’m sure that it wasn’t my parents intention to give me a name that made me feel unsafe or to cause me trouble. But the fact is my name has caused problems for me. People have used that information to locate me and show up unannounced. Now that I have children, it scares me even more.

I have embraced my name and I love it. It no longer makes me miserable as it did in elementary school. But it is something I need to consider in my every day life. I think that there are names that can be special for you and your family, but try to reign it in if you are going too overboard.

Do you love your name? Or hate it? Maybe you never think about it, it’s just your name. Share in the comments below.

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