What’s In A Name?


If you are my Facebook friend, you’ve already seen this – sorry you are seeing this image twice, but it totally inspired me and also got me thinking about names.

I will have to share how a Korean girl got an old lady’s name sometime, but for today, I will share a little bit about the misadventures of being named Phyllis.

When I was growing up, I disliked my name a lot. So much so that I decided to “change” my name to Jane. It was plain, simple, and no one would spell it wrong. I purchased folders, notebooks, and pencils with my new name on it. I was delighted that I would be able to buy those little tchotchkes etched with my new name! I could never find ones that had Phyllis on it. (Although, if it did, my dad would buy them on business trips to bring back for me and I find myself buying stuff like that if I find my name!) The name change didn’t last for long – maybe a year – but I don’t think anyone actually called me Jane.

My favorite name misadventure memory was Valentine’s Day. I would get all these great Valentine’s Day cards from my classmates with my name spelled in these various ways:

Filis, Fill-us, Pilis, Filliss, Philis, Phillys, Phillis, Phill-us, Philips, Pillips, Phlips, Phil, Phyl

And now, thanks to Starbucks, Flis! For a time, I used to hold on to those Valentine’s Day cards with all those funny ways of spelling my name. It kept me humble.

I usually spell out my name for people because they usually ask what my name is twice. Sometimes, they even ask me how to spell it and I really appreciate the gesture. Other times, they ask a few times and they still don’t quite get it. I make sure not to say it too fast and to enunciate properly. Before I was married, many people addressed me “Kim” since my last name just seemed more like a first name to many people. Maybe if I was born 50 years sooner, my name would’ve been much more commonplace. Or maybe not since I still would’ve been a Korean-American girl with a name of Greek origin.

But now, I’ve come to embrace my name and I treasure it. I love the way that my ninjette says it when she decides that she doesn’t feel like calling me mom. It doesn’t bother me that my name is so different and is difficult to spell or say. It gives me a great chuckle at Starbucks. And when I Google myself, I know that there is only one of me!

I wonder, now, what ninjette will think of her name and if she will go through a phase of where she wished she had a different name. I hope she won’t. I hope she will love her name. 

Til next time, just call me Flis.

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