12 Struggles People With Difficult Last Names Will Definitely Understand
I don’t remember how long it took me to learn how to spell my last name, but I do know that when I was in grade school and I had to write down my full name, I always looked back at my cubby for reference. I’ve always resented my last name, and not because it was ethnic, or that whenever it was pronounced correctly, it sounded just a little bit villainous, like I could definitely be the cloaked arch-nemesis in some Pixar film. I resented it because it’s exhausting.
A few months ago, my doctor wouldn’t accept my health insurance because the insurance company misspelled my last name somewhere in their database. So I technically wasn’t covered, because Blue Shield didn't cover “Gina Vaynshteyn,” they covered “Gina Vainstane.” So that's first: When you have a difficult last name, you realize how many people suck at spelling. You also realize that people are more likely to make assumptions about you: They assume that you’re "not from here", or that you don’t speak English, which is always awkward. Most of all, having a difficult last name sucks because you spend an excruciating amount of energy trying to explain it or pronounce it to people who will definitely forget in about ten minutes. But it’s also a pain in the ass for so many other reasons and scenarios:
1. On the first day of class, your teacher starts pronouncing your last name and then gives up
She or he will be calling out the Smiths, and the Williams—and then they will get to you. Their face will scrunch up, and maybe they’ll put on their reading glasses for moral support as they try to brave through all those vowels. “How do you pronounce that?” they’ll end up asking. And here we go again.
2. Either that, or they will completely mutilate it beyond recognition
“Va…Vay…Vanshiten?” Nope, I’m not Vanshiten you.
3. You’ve lusted for marriage, but only because it means you might score an easier last name
Taking the dude’s last name is a touch old-fashioned for a lot of us, but at one point in my life, I was okay with anything possibly problematic feminist implications as long as it meant I could have a name with no more than three syllables. I ended up marrying a guy with a Polish last name, so that dream went right out the window. True love? No. I want brevity. (JK. Maybe.)
4. Those people who insist on having your last name when they put your number in their phone
You know, those Type A people who absolutely need both your names (middle too, if possible) so everything is JUST RIGHT in their phone contact list? Ugh.
5. All those times when you’re asked, “What is that?” or “Is that not American?”
It’s okay to be curious about an unfamiliar name. I get it: It’s weird and ~exotic~ and you’re not used to it. But a lot of people living in the U.S. don’t have an Anglo-Saxon name, you know. Our country is incredibly diverse (even if some people don’t act like it). So really, it’s not that shocking that I have a foreign last name.
6. Slowly spelling out your last name when you’re making an appointment or refilling your meds
And then repeating it, because that “Y” was a total curveball.
7. Slowly spelling out your last name by using easy words for reference.
For example, V is for Van, A is for Apple, Y is for Yak. You would never guess how many people thinking I’m saying “B” instead of “V.” And when they're in charge of my legal documents, I'd like everyone to be on same page, uh, letter.
8. Not being able to have a simple first name last name e-mail address
I made one anyway, because I decided that if people weren’t willing to get my e-mail address right, then they shouldn’t be emailing me anyway. That was a very silly thing to do, because everything now requires an e-mail address—appointments, reservations, jobs. I would have been better off with Gina123. When you put your impossible last name in your email address, all of these problems get duplicated because you also have to deal with them anytime someone wants your e-digits.
9. Probably not being able to ever be a New York Times Bestselling Author
Because complicated last names are just not very marketable. *Cries forever*
10. You measure how close you are with someone by how well they can pronounce your last name
It’s actually a totally valid marker. Either someone dedicates some time and memorization to getting your name right, or they don’t. And this speaks volumes about your relationship.
11. People intentionally mess up your last name to be funny
Ha, ha, ha. You’re like, saying my last name but garbled! That’s so original and clever of you. BRB I’m gonna go look for old food to throw at you.
12. At least you’re guaranteed a full page on Google
Which may or may not be a good thing, but hey. At least you will always be unique and that's a good thing, right?
Images: Getty Images; Giphy(8)