"Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken."
— Oscar Wilde.
At birth my mother, always looking to change things up a bit, decided that my name would be spelt a tad differently. I could surely stay a bit more unique if the letters of my common name were different then everyone else’s. Now to some of you that might not sound too bad and it’s all fine and dandy… until that little girl grows up. You see, my mom decided to spell my name like this: E-M-I-L-I (Pronounced “Emma-lee”). One teeny tiny letter has forever made my life misery when listening to anyone pronounce my name. I would say that 80% of the time a common stranger CANNOT say my name correctly. It’s infuriating – like nails on a chalkboard! I’ve heard it all. “Emma-lie” or “E-meal” and even “E-mily.” What was suppose to be a beautiful and unique name is now forever a word no one can ever pronounce properly. At every doctor’s appointment, teacher’s meeting, study class… it’s always the same. I, of course, am quick to correct these people and they immediately look as if they’ve been struck by lightening realizing the error of their ways.
Now you’d think that coming from this little rant that when I had children of my own I would use common spelling for their names. Well, I’m sorry to say, that my first child will forever also have to correct people. They won’t have any trouble saying his name thankfully, but they will almost certainly spell it wrong. His name is Damian. However, it is more often spelt Dami(e)n. Yet when my husband and I decided on this name I did not like the connotation between our son’s name and the wildly popular 1970’s horror film “The Omen.” My child is not evil. My child is a blessing that I thank God for each and every day and though he may test our patience daily, he will never be evil. But I can still hear the horrified gasp from my now dearly-departed and very religious grandmother the day I told her we were naming our son Damian. “Oh no! That’s a horrible name!” she exclaimed. I cringed at her voice. Ouch. This was not something I was hoping to hear from a grandmother I loved dearly. Fortunately, I was prepared! Before calling my grandmother that day, I had actually done some simple research online.
Hastily I had looked for any religious correlations between the name we had chosen and the church. Not for my benefit but most certainly for hers. Thankfully I did find information about St. Damien (Damien de Veuster). He was a man who came to aid many lepers in the 1860’s. Definitely not the most glamorous correlation between church and child, but hey, it was win in my eyes! I consoled my grandmother with this knowledge that I had readily available for her and she seemed somewhat satisfied. ‘Phew! Dodged that I bullet,’ I thought to myself. Unfortunately the remarks kept coming from other people familiar with the film and now almost five years later, I find myself quick to dismiss any such discussion. I am content with my family, unique spellings and all.
What interesting stories do you have to share about how your name has impacted your life? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to share below in the comments.