There are some things in life I feel fairly strongly about. Same sex marriage, the right to freedom, the cost of petrol…and not giving your children strange names that no one can pronounce.
As with most convictions, this last one comes from first hand experience. Growing up with the name “Aroha” was hard. Being an adult and having the name Aroha is not that much better, to be completely honest. Before I go on, I’ll give you a little lesson in saying my name. Many of you have probably seen it either on my page, or when I’ve left a comment on your’s as “Aroha from Colours of Sunset”.
The easiest way to remember my name is that it is basically the word NARROWER, minus the N and with an Aussie accent. So really more like Arrowah. Clear as mud? It’s also like a bow and “Arrow” with an “ah” on the end. If you are a kiwi or have the ability to roll your R’s (which I do not) it can even be “Aro-ha” (with a rolled R). This is how the Maoris would say it, and it sounds beautiful. I mean, it should sound beautiful, it does after all mean “love”. (*gag*)
The problems with having such a strange name are many. As a child I’d always scour the displays of pencils, mugs, stickers and key rings that all had names on them. I never once found anything with my name on it. So recently in New Zealand, when my name was on everything, it was really hard not to buy it all and make up for 35 years of never seeing it on anything.
I was forever repeating my name, correcting others, and spelling my name. I still do that. Some of the responses I’ve had to my name include:
“What kind of a name is that?” (I don’t know, my parents hated me, what can I say?)
“How do you spell that?”
“That’s an unusual name!” (no kidding)
“Where is that from?”
“What does that mean?”
“Are you from New Zealand?”
And don’t get me started on what happens when you google my name. There wouldn’t be one other person in the world with my name, which means when you google me, everything I’ve ever posted online comes up. Pinterst accounts, Google +, personal pictures, Facebook pages I’ve commented on…it is really hard to undo all of that, although I’ve started trying to erase my internet history.
Until I was 21 I never had a nickname. Then I started an internship, where at our induction, it was my turn to introduce myself. After my spiel, I got, “What is your nickname?” “I don’t have one” I replied. “Well, what do your friends call you?” “Aroha” “What does your family call you?” “Aroha.” That is my name, that is what people call me! Well, that was too hard, so they decided my nickname would be “Ro”. Unfortunately, that wasn’t much easier. “Rose?” people would ask. “No, Ro. Like row row row your boat.” No matter what, I was destined to forever have to explain my name.
I’ve often wondered if my name has stopped me from getting job interviews. I have a bachelors degree, a graduate certificate and am working on my masters degree. I have over 15 years of work experience, yet I can never even get a job interview, unless I know someone at the place hiring.
I recently started a one-day-a-week internship, and there is a Gloria Jeans coffee shop in the center next door. So I have developed a habit of stopping for coffee on my way.This is one of those coffee shops where they ask what your name is, and call it when your coffee is ready. Now, my MO is to pick a random, easy name when I patron shops like this. My standard responses are typically my friends, sisters or mum’s names. I’ve been Kate, Kayla, Crystal, Alison, Emily and most recently, I decided I would be “Paige”. I have always liked the name, and when pregnant with Nick, it was on my short list for girls names.
As you do, I posted on Facebook that I was trying out a new name at the coffee shop today, and that you could now just call me “Paige”. Later that night I was thinking about how much I would actually really like to change my name, and maybe I should change it. So I did what everyone would do first…I changed it on Facebook. Surprisingly a lot of my friends were outraged. “Why on earth would you change your name?” “Paige? Is that the best you could come up with?” “Aroha is the best name EVER”. Well, my only response is, “YOU try living with it.”
So I challenge you all. Next time you’re at a shop that asks for your name, tell them it’s Aroha. And see what happens. Then hit me up here or on twitter and let me know how you went. In the meantime, I’ll ride out my 55 days I have left on Facebook before I can change my name back to Aroha on Facebook and see if I get used to Paige.
What’s your name? Do you like it? Does it constantly get butchered? Will you take my challenge?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT, of course.