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May 29 2016
by Marie Fayssoux

6 Lessons I've Learned From Having A Unique Name

By Marie Fayssoux - May 29 2016

My whole life I've had to deal with people mispronouncing my name. More often than not it's said incorrectly by people I'm meeting for the first time. That's to be expected with a name like "Fayssoux" (pronounced: Fay-sue) but it happens with "Marie" and "Ashlyn" too. Here are some of the many mispronunciations I've encountered: Mary, Maria, Murray, Morrie, Ashley, Fassinons, Fayzoo, Faysaurus and, my personal favorite, Faysucks.

Some days the ignorance I face in regards to my name is enough to make me want to scream, but on good days I'm able to take a step back and appreciate the lessens I've learned from growing up with a unique name. Here are a few of them:

1. Patience.

Yes, it's frustrating when it seems like I'm never addressed properly but given enough time (and hints) many people will actually pronounce my name right. It's pays off to smile and be patient.

2. Appreciate the little things.

Whether it's rejoicing when someone finally says my name correctly or laughing when someone makes a humorous parody of it, having a unique name is full of little victories.

3. It's difficult to be forgotten.

In some ways this is cool. Teachers from preschool remember the little girl with the last name that means "bucket maker" in French but the opposite side of the coin is that IT'S DIFFICULT TO BE FORGOTTEN. If by chance I offend someone or do something embarrassing in front of them they're more likely to recall the occasion when they hear me mentioned as opposed to someone with the last name "Smith." I must tread lightly.

4. "It's not wrong, it's different."

As previously discussed, all three of my names have been pronounced in a multitude of ways but just because someone says them differently than I do doesn't mean they're in the wrong. Their life experiences (education, regional dialect, etc..) are different than mine, therefore we're going to say things differently and that's okay. The same goes for everything else people think and do. Differences are never wrong and help us to learn from one another. 

5. Being unique is fun.

Uncommon names draw attention and serve as conversation starters. On multiple occasions people have recognized that my last name is French have then asked about my knowledge of the language. Luckily I know a little (un peu) and have been able to participate in conversations I wouldn't have otherwise had if I didn't bear a distinct name. Unusual names also make it easy to accumulate nicknames. New friends either find properly pronouncing my name too daunting of a task and label me as something entirely new (like Antoinette) or they butcher it into something hilarious that sticks (like Faysucks). 

In addition to being an icebreaker and automatic nickname creator, unique names give you an excuse to make Les Mis references when introducing yourself (cue sassy Javert quotation) and who doesn't love that?

6. You don't need a personalized vacation keychain to live a fulfilled life.

Every child goes into cheesy beach shops with one intent: to find a flashy keychain with their name on it. I am one of the unfortunate few that has never been able to accomplish that task. As a child I occasionally daydreamed about changing my name to something simple and inconspicuous, something that could be found on a keychain, but I've since realized that individualized keychains do not dictate one's worth. I was accepted into my favorite university, I am following my dreams of become a child life specialist and a writer, I have family and friends that love me and I, Marie Ashlyn Fayssoux, have never owned a personalized vacation keychain. And I am happy.

Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures

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Marie Fayssoux - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Marie is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She plans to major in human development/family studies and minor in creative writing. She has an affinity for Guinea pigs, hairless cats, glitter, avocados and changing the world. Follow her on Twitter @MissMarieAsh

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