Thursday, June 09, 2011

Ooh Na Na, What's My Name?

My very unique, very creative first name has been the bane of my existence. I have a love/hate relationship with my given name. I love that fact that my parents took the time to make up my name. I hate the fact that people have mispronounced it every single day of my life. My father, Kenneth, wanted to name me Yolanda which is my Mom's name. She objected. So, he pondered and came up with "Yokenda."

My name is a combination of my parents name. It's also phonetic. It's pronounced "Yo-ken-da." Three syllables. Seven letters. One crazy name. Easy right? Apparently not. From my first day at school, I realized that my name would be a problem. My Kindergarten teacher called me Yolanda for a week. I told her that was my Mom's name. She called my Mom in for a conference. From then on, I've heard my name massacred by the mouths of people. I've been called "Yocenda, Yokinda, Yokinawa," amongst other things. I've had teachers not even attempt to say my name and just call me Ms. my last name.

It's been a struggle. I went through a period where I hated my name. I would only answer to my middle name. I have never been comfortable with most of the nicknames people have come up with for me. I despise "YoYo." But I have become accustomed to an abbreviated form of my name. Kenda fits me more. It's the part of my name that I've never had a problem with. I had great plans on formally changing my name when I turned 18. My Mom made a huge deal out of it. She thinks I'm trying to cut her out of my name. That's certainly not the case. I'm just Kenda.

My Mom loves my name. Outside of her, my brother Ken, and my Kristopher, no one else calls me by my entire government name. What's funny is that there are people in my adult life who don't even know my name. They only know me as Kenda. One thing I do know is that I would never put my future kids through this. I don't like complicated names. I'm sure I'm biased about it. In the words of Destiny's Child, "say my name, say my name" but make sure you say it right!!

Your name defines you. It's the first thing people know about you. My name shows that I'm obviously one of a kind. For that, I'm forever grateful. My parents were thoughtful when it comes to that. Names are super important. I like that up until recently I've never met anyone with my name. There is a girl on Facebook who has my name but she's much younger than me. I wonder if her parents heard of me before naming her. I'm sure there is a story there that leads back to me. I'd love to hear from my other uniquely named folks. Has a unique name or spelling of your name caused you any stress? Tell me about it. Trust me, I definitely feel your name woes.

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