That’s Not My Name

Do you have a unique name? Or just a name that strangers find hard to pronounce? Welcome to the club my friend, this one’s for you.

Imagine this: you’ve taken your seat in class and you notice you have a new teacher. You feel instant dread. ‘Oh god. They’re going to say my name wrong.’ The teacher proceeds to call out names, one by one, then pauses for a moment. They sit there staring at something on the attendance list, something that seems to be making them uncomfortable. You wait for it. ‘Shan.. ikah?’ Cringe. ‘It’s Shaniikah..’ I would say. With an ‘ee’ sound not and ‘I’ sound. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have to correct them, sometimes a fellow class mate would get annoyed and correct them for me.

This was my most common high school experience. I am no longer a student however, I no longer have to endure the pain of hearing a teacher pronounce my name wrong. But I still have to introduce myself to new people don’t I? When being interviewed by prospective employers, I still see them staring down at my resume for a moment, just like all those teachers with the attendance list. That same look of discomfort crossing their faces.
‘How do you say your name again?’
‘It’s ‘shan-ee-kah, it’s a hard one’ I would say with a laugh.

A more recent cringey experience happened when I was being interviewed for a job over the phone. It was going wonderful, aside from this poor woman having to ask me every five minutes ‘how do you say your name again?’

I remain positive, I can’t exactly blame anyone can I? It’s not their fault my mother gave me a unique name and decided to spell it funny. Where did I get my name you might ask? Well one uneventful night, my pregnant mother was sitting on the lounge watching Ricki Lake as usual when she saw an African American woman getting interviewed. She loved this woman’s name so much that she decided to name her first child after her. So here I am.

The amount of ways I have heard my name pronounced… The possibilities seem endless. Whenever someone would say it a new way I would just laugh it off and say ‘I’ll have to add that one to the list.’ Not that I ever had an actual list.

My name isn’t all that bad though. I like not knowing anyone with the same name as me. I like that on social media I am the first and only Shaniikah and therefore don’t have to add my last name or any pointless numbers. I like that when a friend calls out my name, only one person will ever turn around.



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