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Popularity of the Baby Name Open

Number of Babies Named Open

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Open

Shy Kids vs. Unique Names

Not long ago I read an essay called “Please don’t give your baby a weird name” by Shalini Miskelly.

It starts, “Hello, my name is Shalini, and I hate my unusual name.”

I hate my unusual name for the reason so many parents love them and want to give them to their bundles of joy: It stands out. It makes the bundles of joy unique. That’s the whole point. No more anonymous Jennifers clouding up elementary classrooms! Down with the Jennifer!

But listen: Your bundles of joy are going to have to pay for the uniqueness.

…with a lot of attention.

And sure, attention isn’t bad for everyone, but for me? It’s awful. I’m a writer. My favorite hobby is not talking, and my second favorite is avoiding people. Surely some of the Xenons and Shoogs will be introverts, too.

My name added to my shyness. It was hard to be real friends with someone when she didn’t even know how to pronounce my name. I even babysat for a family who thought my name was Charlotte for a solid year because I was too awkward to correct them.

shy girlShalini’s essay really struck a chord with me.

I’m both introverted and shy (two different things). I can only imagine how frustrating and embarrassing it would have been to grow up with a very unusual name.

I’m reminded of the woman named Open, who said: “Childhood was painful.” Yup, I can believe that.

All those parents-to-be competing to give their kid the most unusual name on the block? I wish they would step back for a second and consider the possibility that they might end up with a kid who’s introverted, or shy, or both. And really think about how burdensome unusual names are for those types of kids. (Or adults, for that matter.)

P.S. Shalini blogs at Reading (and Chickens).

Unusual Names – Pros and Cons

Here are two very different views on unusual names — both from women who know a lot about the topic.

Bluzette and Open Weaver Banks were featured in a CNN article on the pros and cons of unusual names a few years back. Here’s what Bluzette wrote for CNN iReport:

My parents named me after a great instrumental jazz song. When I was born, my mother didn’t know how to spell it but knew she wanted to name me Bluzette. The original spelling of the song is “Bluesette”. It’s an up tempo jazz waltz written by Jean “Toots” Thielemans. He is from Belgium. I was fortunate to meet him years ago and he told me he wrote it on a pier in France and said it had a little bit of blues in the melody so he called it “Bluesette” meaning just that.

A few years later Mel Torme and Norman Gimbel put words to the music and fortunately for me, it was a song about a girl named “Bluesette”. I always say, it could’ve been about a boat, and I would still be “Bluzette”.

For many years, I resented the name as my older brother and his friends were cruel as most kids are, but as life went on I learned to appreciate it more and more. When I was young I remember having to know how I got my name and be able to spout out the story at any given moment. I truly believe unusual and unique names build character at a young age. When you are eight years old and your friend’s mother asks you how you got such an unusual name, you must be ready with an answer. I was communicating my story at a young age and now appreciate how important it was in my development as a strong, confident woman in life.

I lost my mother two years ago and she always called me “Bluzey”. Now I sport vanity plates on my car that say just that.

I will say that at times for the sake of avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or throwing someone off guard I answer to the names of “Mary” or “Kelly”. For instance, at a restaurant like Panera Bread or Papa Murphy’s when they ask your name to be more friendly, Mary is just easier. The thought of putting an employee through the pain of guessing how to spell and pronounce Bluzette just isn’t worth it to me.

That’s my story and it’s a constant conversation but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

(Interesting how she uses a restaurant name.)

Here’s what Open Weaver Banks had to say:

Like everyone else with a unique name, I can’t imagine one worse than my own. My full name on my birth certificate is Open Weaver. My married name is Open Weaver Banks. I have a hard time using my credit cards for personal items because clerks will accuse me of using a business card. I have problems with airline tickets and any type of registration where people think that my name must be a typo and I become an “Owen.” I cannot tell my name to someone without having to explain it. Some days it is exhausting and I can’t even disguise the annoyance in my voice. Even my husband says he tires of explaining it to colleagues every time he mentions my name in conversation.

This is now, when it is really just an inconvenience. Childhood was painful. I still give my mother a hard time about the name choice and she tries to explain that she was young, she liked how it sounded, it was 1970, and various other reasons. Then she asks why I don’t change it if I hate it so much. I actually tried going by another name for a year and I realized that as much as I truly hate my name, it is embedded in me and so much a part of my experience. I felt like I was keeping a dark secret and people couldn’t truly know me if they didn’t know that part of me. So I went back to “Open.”

The point I think people need to realize when they are naming their children is that unique is wonderful, but it can also be a burden when it crosses a line and subjects children to ridicule or makes getting through the average day difficult because of the number of times you have to explain it or spell it. And parents cannot predict their children’s personalities or futures. So while “Open” might have been great if I had grown up to be an artist and moved in more “open-minded” circles, it is not so great for a 37 year old attorney who sometimes would just like to be taken seriously when I introduce myself, rather than have to explain for the umpteenth time “My mother just liked the way it sounded.”

For those of you with unusual names: Whose experiences/opinions are most like your own? Or are you somewhere between the two?

Source: Hanks, Henry. “Your parents named you what? The pros, cons of unusual names.” CNN 1 Aug. 2008. (Via Genealogue.)