I have the most commonly generic name of all-time; Amanda. If you don’t believe me, try this fun experiment. Go to a shopping mall and yell out “Hey, Amanda” and then watch the number of girls who turn to look at you.
My name was chosen by my maternal grandfather because he liked the name very much. It means “fit to be loved” and was in the 1980s the moniker to name your bouncing bundle of female joy. I had no real issue with my name until I entered Kindergarden – although, to be far, I have no memories of that time either- and I was ushered to a table by a teacher who introduced me to my tablemates… Amanda O, Amanda B and Mark. The teacher, sensing the difficulty for poor Mark of remembering our last names, tried to see if we had any nicknames, like Mandy. If five-year old me had perfected the death stare I now possess, I’m sure I would have used it. You can call me lots of things, but do not call me Mandy.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve found my dislike of my name grow. Partially because my brother learned that “Amanda Hugandkiss” was hilarious (Thanks, Bart Simpson) and partially because I find the name so very juvenile. It sounds like an angelic cherubin child with blonde curls and blue eyes. It does not sound like a respectable, professional adult. Oh, and it sounds terrible when you have a nasally voice. A-mayyyyyynnnnnnnn-duh.
Now, let’s look at something positive. I do have to admit that I’ve always liked that my name started with the letter A… And there are a couple of “cool” Amandas who have become famous, such as actress Amanda Peete and fashionable author Amanda Brooks. I also don’t have to use a Starbucks name, never spell it for people and can be fairly confident that people can pronounce it. Friends, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my name is Amanda, but I still don’t love it.
So I asked a bunch of people recently if they liked their names. Those with common, easy to spell names (such as Jessica, Lisa, Jennifer, Isabelle, etc.) all said that they disliked the commonality of their name, but were OK with it on its own. Those with more unusual names were split into two camps: the loves (it’s unique!) and the hates (no one can spell it!) People have also asked me what my name would be OTHER than Amanda. I mean if I hate it so much, I must have a better one picked out, right? Well, I kinda do. But I’ve never been able to a) tell people the name or b) actually do anything about it. Changing your name is an immense pain in the ass, plus how are you supposed to tell people who have called you one name your whole life something else? “Hey, mom, my name is now Xanadu” Oh, and my secret name is not Xanadu, please do not worry.
So, I’m an Amanda. At least there will always be pencils and souvenirs pre-made with my name ready to go, a wide selection of books featuring characters named Amanda, and I can jam out to an 80’s power ballad featuring my own name whenever I want. Take that, Xanadus.