“So You Have A Weird Name…”
by J’na Jefferson
I’m a 90’s kid.
I dealt with the break-up of Cory and Topanga.
I dealt with waiting twenty minutes for America Online’s dial-up to complete so that I could read email.
I dealt with the fact that my Furby was probably a cold blooded killer. You know, typical 90’s kid.
I also dealt with having a weird/unique/interesting name. I’m sure you’ve been staring and pondering the pronunciation of my first name. If not, I’ll give you the opportunity to look NOW.
Were you thinking “Juh-nay”? “Juh-nah”?
It’s “Jay-nuh”. Like “Dana” with a J. I know, that gosh darn apostrophe really throws everyone for a loop. Don’t feel bad though, I’ve gotten every mispronunciation in the book. I’ve gotten such gems as ‘Tina”, “John-uh”, and “Gina” to name a few. The latter has been pronounced in two different ways. One is Gee-na, the other sounds a lot like a female reproductive organ without the first syllable. I really hope you know where I’m going with this.
1993 was a time in American history when the most common names were Jessica, Ashley, and Sarah. Seeing the name J’na was a step back and a confused head cock to the side. Those names were the Destiny’s Child and Spice Girls of names, and mine was more like Eden’s Crush or Wild Orchid.
To make matters a little more hilariously unfortunate, my middle name is Monique. Both are beautiful and different, but when mispronounced, my first and middle name together make me sound like either an 80’s pop sensation or a high priced call girl. The struggle is endless.
In school, my teachers usually complimented that my name was “unique”, which is teacher speak for “…WTF?” They didn’t have tenure yet, I presume, so they didn’t want to say anything too cutting.
Sometimes, kids would think I wouldn’t be able to hear them talking about my name, and I would overhear them say it was weird. Weird! As if they’ve never seen a name with an apostrophe before!
The constant mispronunciations stink, but I couldn’t imagine life with a “normal” name. Plus, I’ve become so accustomed to responding to any variation of my name that I’ve virtually become immune. Call me any name you want, just don’t call me late for dinner. Or a bitch, don’t call me that either.
On the plus side, it could be worse. You could be the child of a celebrity. Knowing that there are children in the world running around with names like Zuma Nesta Rock, Pilot Inspektor, and Moxie Crimefighter makes me feel ten times better about my name. Thank goodness their parents have exorbitant amounts of money to hire hulking body guards, or they’d get their asses handed to them.
Another reason why having a unique name is awesome is that you can have fun with people. Let’s face it- the people at Starbucks can’t even say the name Susan correctly. So, in an effort to spare them the difficulty of pronouncing a name with an air comma in it, I simply change my name each time I go. I’m surprised that the baristas haven’t realized that “Jacqueline”, “Amanda”, and “Beyoncé” are all the same person.
Probably the best thing about having a unique name is that you could be mononymous, which means that you are identified only by your first name. Madonna, Oprah, Prince- all women of power, all known by one name only. Sometimes I’m identified by my first name only, but my first and last names sound cool together. To be known by one name only is still pretty radical.
My mom and dad always assured me that I had a very special name because I was a very special girl. They definitely had a point. My name was so special that there was no pencil or keychain in the world that would be good enough for it. In the words of one of the most prolific wordsmiths of our time, 2Chainz, “I’m different.”
So, fear not, fellow unique name owners. You are not alone. If your name is extra ordinary, embrace it! Have fun with it; know that you aren’t YOU without it. Work that accent mark and show off that hyphen. Just think- you’re like a unicorn. You’re a bad ass unicorn with a cool ass name. Also, be thankful that you weren’t named after fruits, cars, or rare diseases resulting from spider bites.
J’na Jefferson is a college sophomore who’d much rather watch “The 90′s Are All That” than party on a Saturday night. She knows more pop culture references than she should, enjoys blogging on her personal site JibJabble, and she has been closely monitoring Miley Cyrus’ slow downward spiral since 2006.