Something About A Name – Josh Journal
There is a riddle that goes, “what is yours but gets used more by others?” The answer is your name.
Your name is your first identity that people are introduced to. It is what people will first ask of you. It is the one thing they would try to remember when you leave. And it is often the first thing they would share about you. Unless there is something a lot more interesting about you, then it would be the second thing.
For a few reasons known to me and a lot more unknown to me, growing up, I was kind of popular. I could hardly walk down a street without a couple of people calling out my name.
It got so distracting that I often ignored them unless the voice sounded familiar.
By the time I got into secondary school, my name was still popular, but it seemed my face was more popular in some circles.
I’d show up and people would relate with me like they’ve known me for a long time, except that they were addressing me by the wrong name.
This was happening so often that it was easier for me to respond to another name than to tell them the right one. Especially when our interaction was only going to last a limited amount of time.
It didn’t occur to me that the limited amount of time would be recurring, and these people would be giving other people the wrong name as mine.
This has probably been the most consistent feature of my life. It kept happening after I started working.
I have colleagues who I’ve worked with for over ten years who still call me the wrong name. Neighbors too.
I’ve had to answer to Samuel, Daniel, Caleb, Jacob, Phillip, Jude, Henry, and others. Let me skip out on the Nigerian names.
There was a time someone called me by my proper name, and someone else started an argument with him that he got it wrong.
I hastily excused myself before they thought of asking me who was wrong.
I used to believe this was unique to me until a friend told me I had been calling his girlfriend the wrong name.
He was laughing at her and me, and asking how I started calling her by that name.
I can remember I had asked her what her name is, and she had said something. Maybe I heard wrong, or because we weren’t yet close, but I believe it was the name she gave me that I had been calling her.
Either way, I had been addressing her by the wrong name for three years, she had responded every time, and she had never thought of correcting me.
If her boyfriend hadn’t pointed it out, I probably would have kept at it for a year or two. Or forever.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your name is or what you are called. What matters is what you answer to.
More importantly, if you don’t like what you are being called, insist that it be changed. Or just stop responding to the wrong one.