Why does it matter so much when people spell my name correctly?
Yesterday, someone asked for my phone number. As they were putting it into their phone I made sure to spell my name for them. Sometimes I feel like this is a silly habit, but when I see something that it supposed to be mine with my name spelled some other way, it just feels…well wrong.
I know some of my friends can relate to this. We have lamented the woes of a “uniquely” spelled name. Our coffee is never ours, we often have to correct people, those touristy souvenirs almost never have our names… For those friends this post is one I think you can relate to. For the rest of you…I don’t know, maybe you can try on a creative spelling for a while…
I don’t remember learning how to spell my name, but I know the story well enough to tell it.
It goes something like this:
Mom would take me to story hour at the library where we would be given name tags. The librarian asked me my name and then gave me a name tag that read AMY.
Mom told me next time I would need to tell her, “I’m Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.”
We practiced. The next week I waited my turn in line, the librarian asked me my name. I replied, “I’m Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.”
This was apparently impressive. It is also apparently how I introduced myself to people who asked my name for a long while (a long, long while).
About a year ago, I was getting coffee. It was early, I was tired. I got my coffee and got back in the car. Halfway to my destination, I saw my name on my cup… A-I-M-E-E. I was both ecstatic and a little creeped out. Did this person know me? I went to a high school with 4,000 people. I often run into people and don’t realize we went to high school together (this makes me feel like a horrible person every time).
Because I am a little crazy (and was overly excited about this), I went back the next day and asked the guy behind the counter if we knew each other. He looked at me like the crazy lady I am and said we did not. I explained to him that, for the first time ever, my name was spelled correctly on my coffee cup. It was very very exciting. Apparently, he always spells people’s names creatively on their cups in hopes that he will get someone’s name right from time to time. I told him he made my day. He spelled my name correctly every time I went in after that, new favorite coffee shop.
So why does it matter? My name is who I am. I have curly hair, when I straighten it, I feel like I am wearing a costume. I am not a pink girl, when I paint my nails pink (except for maybe neon pink) I feel like I am looking at someone else’s hands. I am an Aimee with two e’s, when its an Amy, it feels like someone else.
My parents didn’t pick my name because they wanted me to have to spell it for people my whole life, or because they didn’t want to have to buy me all the souvenirs with my name on it. They wanted a French name because Grandma was from Belgium. Mom has a French name too. Aimee (with an accent that I never write, except maybe in French class) is the French spelling. It also means loved or beloved. And guess what. I was born on my parents wedding anniversary. Pretty cool right?
I am proud of my name. It has meaning. It is part of my identity. Yeah, people spell it wrong, and if they know me I get a little irritated when they do. My coffee and to go orders and pretty much anything where a stranger asks for my name usually feel like they belong to someone else. That’s okay, those people don’t know any better.
But old habits die hard. The other day I was distracted and tired. Someone asked my name and I said, “Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.” We shared an awkward moment. I apologized. She smiled and told me she was Erinne, with two n’s and an e. She understood. We bonded for just a second. Maybe I will start a club for people who have names they have to spell out…