Does Your Name Matter?

A new character was recently introduced on my favorite TV show…and her name is Sage.

She’s not much like me. She likes to double-cross people and play mind games…oh, and she’s a vampire who drinks human blood, so there’s that.

This probably isn’t very interesting to those of you with common names, but I don’t run across other Sages very often.

My name is rare enough that I’m usually the only Sage any given person knows, but it’s not so unusual that people would ask how to spell it or think that I’m really weird (they think I’m really weird for other reasons).

My husband, Chris, on the other hand, has an extremely common name—and not just his first name. His full name is so common, that we have discovered another person with the same name in EVERY town we’ve lived in, even in other states.

This means Chris is often handed the wrong person’s clothes at the dry cleaners, or a new doctor will pull another patient’s files.

But that’s not the end of it. Chris’s full name is pronounced similarly to that of actor and activist Christopher Reeve. (Chris’s last name is different than my last name. It’s not Reeve, but it’s close.)

If Chris says his full name to anyone our age or older, I can guarantee that the next words out of the person’s mouth will be,

“Oh! Like Superman!”

Thank goodness Christopher Reeve had a stellar reputation. I feel bad for regular folks who share their names with less likeable celebrities, such as Charlie Sheen.

Do names matter?

I’ve argued before that names don’t matter. You might really like your name…until a serial killer on the news shares the same name. You might know someone with a certain name who’s nice…and then meet someone with the same name who you’d like to kick in the balls.

But then again, my actions suggest that names do matter. Years ago, I broke off from an abusive family and legally changed my last name. My old last name was tying me to memories and people I’d rather forget.

In my case, a new name changed everything. I could see myself as a kinder, loving person with so much light to share with the world…something that my old name prevented me from feeling.

In the meantime, I’ll live vicariously through evil vampire Sage on TV. She looks like she’s having a fun time.

How do you feel about your name?

Have you ever had a strong feeling about someone because of his or her name?

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  1. Vanessa on April 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Oh! Where have I been that I never read this post before?! When I was child, I have always dreamed of having a foreign name, whatever this name was. I was always fascinated by people with “strange” last name pronunciation. I always knew someday I would have one of those “strange pronounced” names. Here I am! Vanessa Greenway, not as strange as I had thought, but certainly foreigner. ~ Vanessa

  2. Working Mystic on October 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Sage, well, my name is Nneka Kelly. I thought I was one of a kind until one day in a neighboring town someone was killed with the same name. I came into work to folks asking me if I was okay. I've since come to find that there's someone else out there who has a mug shot. Imagine my surprise!

    I think I might have to go back to my maiden name which is even more rare. LOL!

  3. Dahlia – Dahlietta Betty | Landscaping - Gardening on April 22, 2012 at 1:18 am

    […] Pro Sports Team NamesMy Grandma’s Wedding DressSafari (Tel- Aviv)Ultra Violet FlowersСтроительство домовoffice spaceHindu Baby Girl and Boy Names with Meanings and Origins in Excel FileDoes Your Name Matter […]

  4. Tinfoil Tiaras on March 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    P.S. I LOVE your outfit- that skirt is adorable (had to be said, I am a fashion blogger after all 😉

  5. Tinfoil Tiaras on March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I think you have a beautiful and unique name- I don’t know anyone named Sage! There are however a lot of Emily Browns so I don’t feel too unique! My man has an Arabic name and unfortunately it conjures up a lot of racial profiling and prejudice so his name definitely matters. So sorry to hear about your family history but good for you that you got out of it and were able to separate yourself!

    • Sage on March 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks, Emily. My family life was awful, but everyone has some kind of baggage. It’s been years now, and I’m doing a lot better now that I’ve removed myself from the toxic situation.

  6. Anna@ThriftyBusiness on March 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Names matter in the sense that they make things easier when you have the “right” one: a short, slightly unique, easily pronounceable name. For example, I hate my last name. Ok, maybe hate is strong since Im used to it but it’s LONG, obviously eastern European, and unfitting to my image. I’m going to change it soon to something both Tom and I like (because we’re a family like that 🙂 and never look back to my ancestral name (sorry dad, it isn’t personal! 😉

    If you don’t mind sharing, how did you come up with your name? I need brainstorming ideas. Thank you!

    • Sage on March 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Choosing your own name is fun! As for me, I spent a lot of time thinking about names/words that meant something to me: literary characters, mentors, colors, locations, seasons, etc.

      My last name is Grayson, which is special to me for many reasons. I’m a comic book reader, and my favorite character’s last name is Grayson. He also doesn’t have a biological family and created his own family out of trusted friends (like I did). I also like the “gray” in my name because I don’t believe any situation is simply black or white. Finally, the long “A” sound was a good match with the long “A” in Sage.

      Take your time and think about the things that inspire you. Good luck!

  7. xvavaveganx on March 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    This is a REALLY interesting post Sage. I think names actually do mean a lot. I mean it is really your identity from when you are born. I hate to say it too but there are certain names that I have some negative associations with based on my interactions with people with those names.

    When I was in elementary school there was no fewer than 3 Sara(h)s in my class alone, never mind the whole grade. I was known as Sara(h) #3 which in retrospect really sucks. I feel like it stripped me of my name and just made me a number. I remember always finding it annoying.

    To make it worse my last name is completely uncommon and apparently difficult to spell and pronounce. Letters are always added or taken away or switched, the pronunciation is butchered 9 times out of 10. I’m not even joking someone once gave up in the middle of trying to pronounce it which ended up sticking as a stupid nickname to this day! I wrote it out phonetically for the person reading names at my college graduation and they still got it wrong. It’s kind of amazing.

    I think because of all of this I’ve grown an appreciation for unique or uncommon names. If I ever have a kid I’d definitely give him or her an uncommon name (not a crazy one though, ha!).

    • Sage on March 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      Definitely give your future kid a unique name! 🙂

      You know, when I look back at elementary school, some of the teachers were just terrible! I was forced to be right handed. Being called “Sarah #3” sounds awful, like you’re not as special as the other kids (or as important as #2 or #1!). And I think nicknames suck. Call me by my real name!

      I tend to butcher last names, and it makes me feel bad because I don’t want to insult the person. I made sure to choose an easy-to-pronounce last name (Grayson) when I chose my own.

  8. Cara on March 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I had three guys named Brock in my grade… and it was a small school (grad class of 60, I think). It was bizarre. There was a girl in a neighbouring town with my name, so naturally, we had to hate each other. So weird why kids decide things – just like how I had to marry another guy from my class because we had the same birthday. But I do agree with ShyBiker, we do form preconceived ideas about people. I’m interviewing for a new job, and when I get an email, I always check the HR reps last name. If it’s a name that’s familiar,it puts me at ease. I’m never sure why!
    I also recently hyphenated my last name (my husband did as well – both of us are fiercely tied to our original last names, but both really wanted a united “family” name), and I still introduce myself with my maiden name. It seems to put people at ease.

    • Sage on March 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Brock? I’m not sure I’ve heard that name before… Weird that you had so many in your class!

      I know everyone has preconceived notions about people because of their names, but it still makes me feel like I’m being judgy for no good reason. One of my friends has the same name as a former bully I once knew–but I’ll never tell her that her name bothers me!

      I changed my last name before Chris and I got married and I wasn’t going to change it again afterwards. I spent a lot of time choosing a name that means something to me and sounds good with my first name (Sage Grayson). I like the idea of family names, but we’re OK without a shared name. BTW, our dog Skyla has MY last name! 🙂

  9. Megan Gann on March 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I feel like my name doesn’t really match my person. I mean, I am a Southern Belle at heart. I’ll feed anyone who comes to my kitchen, follow traditional Southern manners (most of the time), and adore my great grandmother who I’m named for… I just wish I had gotten her first name: Malvrie Mae (unsure of spelling), but she hated her first name so badly she went by her middle one and I got that instead.

    I’ve never been anything like any other Megan I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, most of the television/movie people with my name seem to be rather unfortunate characters (who are also called MEG-an rather than May-gan).

    Still in the end, I wound up with an awesome married name.

    • Sage on March 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      I really liked being able to choose a last name that means something to me. You’re a Batman fan too, right? My last name is Grayson–like Robin! I know, I’m a dork but I love it.

      I’m glad you like your married name. I didn’t change my name again after Chris and I got married. I like my new name too much and we’re OK not having a shared last name.

      Wait…so your full name is Megan Mae Gann…like may-gan may-gan? That’s so cool!

      • Megan Gann on April 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        Yes, exactly! Which is why I haven’t wanted to change it despite my disconnect with my name. It was such a hilarious coincidence.

  10. Molly on March 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve never met another Molly, although I’ve seen them on TV and heard of them, of course. Well, I have met dogs named Molly, though. 🙂 I love my name and have gotten so many nice comments about it. Mike, on the other hand, wishes that his parents would have named him something else since his is so common.

    I don’ t think I’ve ever had a strong feeling because of what someone else was named, but maybe I did and just didn’t realize it?

    • Sage on March 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      I don’t know any other Mollys so I think I’d categorize your name as “rare”. I wonder if our names would be more common in other countries or in other parts of the US.

      I feel like there are fewer boy names used today, so that’s why there are a ton of Mikes and Christophers. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

  11. Shybiker on March 27, 2012 at 5:42 am

    I’ve never seen a blog before that had such consistently interesting content. This subject is fascinating and can be approached in several ways.

    Yes, names do matter — as documented by scientific studies reporting that we form preconceptions of strangers simply from their names and use those notions in deciding how to relate to them.

    I share your reaction to the “new” Sage. If the character becomes popular, she will be mentioned to you often. I have an unusual name (Ralph) which, now, is old-fashioned and for most of my life, nobody knew another Ralph except from “The Honeymooners.” Then, in the mid-70s, an Alka Seltzer TV commercial became hugely popular which had my name in it and suddenly everyone was quoting the ad to me. Even strangers when they first met me. (The meatball ad: “I can’t believe I ate the who thing…”; “You ate it, Ralph.”)

    It’s smart of you to contrast your situation with Chris’s since a common name poses its own challenges.

    • Shybiker on March 27, 2012 at 5:43 am

      Oops… “the whole thing”.

      • Sage on March 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        I hope I’m interesting! Thanks for the kind words.

        I do have preconceived notions about people based on their names. It makes me feel bad, even though I know everyone does it.

        Oh my gosh, I remember that Alka Seltzer commercial! I remember a lot of old commercials…and TV theme songs. I gotta get out more.

        Chris takes it in stride. I think he’s just gotten used to having a popular name.