We all know that surnames are kind of a big deal, and it really does make sense that they are — because, in many ways, our last names identify where we come from and which "tribe" we belong to. Personally, I think this is actually kind of awesome — (and a little big Game of Thrones-ish), but if you were born or adopted into a family with an unusual surname, then you already know there's more than a few annoying (albeit harmless) things about having an uncommon last name. I bet you can still recall the fear in every one of your new teachers' eyes as they attempted to call your name on the first day of class, can't you?
Oddly, despite the fact that the majority of people go by their first names — and for a large portion of the world's population, that last names tend to change at least once over the course of a lifetime — the surname we're given at birth, or adoption, still plays a pretty significant role in our lives. In matters of legality, our last names are the ones that mean the most — and as students, our last names are always given priority over our first names. Of course, last names can be changed, but this doesn't undo the fact that (in most states) we're all stuck with our family's weird last name for at least the first 18 years of our lives.
If you were born or adopted into a family with an uncommon name, then you know better than anyone how much your last name can affect the rest of your everyday life. Here are nine things you'll understand if your surname is unique.
1. When Someone Asks For Your Last Name, You Spell It Out Before You Say It
I feel like I have to do this literally any time I'm asked to give my last name, because I've realized over the past 25 years that it's borderline cruel to expect someone I don't know to correctly guess how to spell my surname based off of how it's pronounced. It sounds nothing like it's spelled, (in case you were wondering, it's pronounced, "Enix" with a hard E) and I already know anyone who needs to record my last name is going to end up asking me how to spell it anyway.
So, whether I'm asked to give my last name to the sales clerk at Sephora, the administrative assistant at my doctor's office, or a potential new buddy, I always spell it out first — and if your last name is weird too, then you probably do the same thing.
2. You Never Expect Someone To Pronounce Your Name Correctly Unless You've Already Told Them How To
If your last name is unique, then the thought of anyone knowing how to say it right (without first undergoing your careful instruction) is a thought you stopped allowing yourself to have a long time ago. It's OK though, because if you're anything like me, then you wouldn't know how to react if someone got your name right all on their own.
3. ... And Even Then, You Know They Probably Still Won't Say It Right Most Of The Time
Unfortunately, some names are just too weird, I guess. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least a third of the people I know (some of whom I'm related to) still don't pronounce my name correctly, and I've pretty much given up on changing that. If your last name is a bit weird too, I'm sure you feel my pain.
4. You Know You'll Never Find Your Last Name On A Keychain Or A Home Decor Item
For those of us with unique last names, finding our surnames on a keychain or a home decor item would be like finding a unicorn. Of course, I'm not particularly sad about this, (and you probably aren't either — I mean, it's not a big deal) but the struggle is real. Nobody's going to put "Enochs" on one of those gas station keychains kids are always toting around on their backpacks, and unless I were to whittle it myself, (no, thanks) I'm most likely not going to find a pretty, rugged wood carving of my last name any time soon.
5. You're All Too Familiar With The Question, "Hmmm, What Nationality/Language Is That?"
This gets old, doesn't it? The truth is, I don't know exactly where my last name comes from, and I doubt you know where yours comes from either.
6. You Keep An Ever-Growing List Of All The Weird Ways People Have Butchered The Pronunciation
Oh, boy — this can be fun. Spelled phonetically, my list includes such gems as, "Miss Echonks," and, "Miss Enochez." I'll never understand why people add/rearrange the letters of my last name, but it sure is entertaining.
As a kid, this very real aspect of having an uncommon last name kind of embarrassed me — but now I love it. Because while I used to get frustrated when I'd hear someone botch the pronunciation of my surname, now it just makes me giggle. If your last name looks difficult enough to pronounce that people often make it way more difficult to pronounce than it actually is, then we are basically kin. Also, I wish I could see your list.
7. You've Probably Never Met Someone You're Not Related To Who Shares Your Last Name
Obviously, I have plenty of relatives who share my surname. However, I've yet to meet another Enochs in the wild. If I ever do, I'm convinced that my mind will be permanently blown — and if you have a super uncommon last name as well, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
8. You Sometimes Wanted A "Normal" Last Name When You Were Growing Up
Ah, kids. I think most of us wanted to be as normal and inconspicuous as possible when we were growing up, and having an uncommon last name didn't exactly aid us in that pursuit. Now that I'm older, though, I cherish (almost) everything about myself that makes me different — and that includes my last name. Hopefully, you feel the same way — because if you haven't figured it out by now, unique last names are kind of the best.
9. ... But Now, You Probably Love Your Last Name So Much That You Never Want To Change It
I'm sure this item doesn't apply to everyone who has an uncommon last name, and that's perfectly OK. That said, I think it applies to a lot of us. I've personally grown so attached to my weird surname that I don't ever plan on changing it. It's just too cool, and while I used to see it as a bit of a nuisance, it's become a huge part of my identity. I've become the person I am today while bearing this surname, and I don't ever want to get rid of it. If you feel the same way, then don't let anyone talk you out of keeping your last name. It's yours! Do what you want with it.