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Weird Name Problems (hashtag it!)

Mar 26, 2014

I've only ever met one person who shares my name, spelled the same way, that is. I was around 10 years old on a field trip to a museum. I think she worked there -- can't remember now -- but we had an instant bond, because each of us was the only other person on earth who understood the other's plight in life.

Common assumptions include:

  • The "El" was a mistake -- I must actually go by "Mary."
  • The "El" is my middle name and I'm a weirdo for introducing myself by my entire name.
  • I misspelled my name -- it's actually hyphenated.
  • I am Hispanic.
  • I am Middle Eastern.
I used to get angry, but once I started working and had to email people without ever meeting them, I found myself in a constant struggle between wanting to correct them but not wanting to come across as rude. This frustration escalated quickly until I was angry all day, every day. So I had to find a way to cope. My solution? Considering all people inconsiderate and idiotic.

Eventually I realized this couldn't be true. In fact, at some point, I became less irritated and more fascinated with the human brain. What is it, in their brains, that makes them draw all kinds of conclusions besides the most obvious: Maybe her name is Mary El?

I thought I was in the minority with this problem, until I posted a BuzzFeed article on Facebook titled "16 Things Only People with Unique Names Will Understand." At least I don't feel alone anymore.

I lied about it being more fascinating. It's still super irritating.


  1. Your post made me think of this article I read recently:

  2. From the article:

    Beware of anyone who looks at you and says “I am going to call you what I
    want to call you in spite of what you call yourself;” they mean you no
    good, regardless of how big they smile at you when they say it.”