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.
Shalini’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).