My name is Radhika.

If you can’t figure out what you just read… I get it. In fact… I’m going to tell you about the candid struggle of having an unusual name. And if you yourself have one, then girl… *fist bump*… I relate.

FYI everyone else… phonetically, it’s: Rad-ik-kah

Consequences of having an unusual name:

— Autocorrect
— You go back and forth on telling people the proper pronunciation of your name versus the anglicized one. What if you identify more with the anglicized one? Are you a fake? Ahhh! The stress.
— Sucks when you’re a little kid and the other little kids make fun of you. That really does happen. But guess what? I don’t remember any of their names so take that! 😛
— You contemplate changing your name and wonder if it’s worth the effort.
— People have a positive affiliation with names they can recognize over names they can’t. (Power of Habit.)
— You get emails addressed to you with your name spelled wrong – even though your name is in your email address. GAH WTF.
— People sometimes eliminate or add vowels and consonants when they pronounce your name. That’s just plain lazy. Radhika gets butchered to”Radhiki” for example… Um. Please show me where you see the extra “i”s in my name? *sigh*
— When someone finally learns your name… but they learn it wrong. *bigger sigh*…. the chance that they change how they’ve learned it –and now pronounce it– is like 0%. Real stat…. let me elaborate on this:

When people continuously say your name wrong, they basically have to go through a 6 month “pronunciation rehab” to be able to pronounce your name correctly. It gets awkward. You have many conversations like this:

Person: Hey Radheeka, can you do X?
Me: It’s Radhika. (feels rude, but this is the 50th time)
Person: Oh – yes, Radhika.
…..Rinse and repeat. Be persistent, my friend. They’ll learn.

Back to the consequences though:

— Meeting people in loud places and getting them to learn your name. Seriously… some know me as Veronica or Danika.
— The struggle is real when you make orders and they have to call out your name.
— Sometimes, people can’t tell your first name from your last name.

Here’s some ways you can cope with having an usual name:

1. Go by a name that is easy to pronounce, like “Sarah.” <—- My go-to.

Barista: What’s the name on that order?
Me: Sarah
Barista: Is that with or without an ‘h’?
Me: Uh… *stutters for a moment*.. without?
Barista: *skeptically looks at name on credit card*

^^^ Drawbacks of this: 
One, you may start responding to the fake name.
Two, when they look at your credit card, they may think you’re lying… which you are.
***Really, that name change technique is only good for relationships you don’t plan on keeping.

2. Adopt a nickname, but be prepared to face consequences.

Barista: What’s the name on that order?
Me: Rad
Barista: That’s so Rad – like radical! Has anyone ever told you that?
Me: Actually it’s Radhika – I just shorten- never mind- yeah it is – I’ll have a latte.

Personal drawback for me here: When your nickname is Rad- people think you’re super into yourself.

Then us unusual named peeps have thoughts like this: “maybe we should be bold and proud of our background!” Further conversation example:

Barista: What’s the name on that order?
Me: Radhika
Barista: What?
Me: Um… Radhika. (exudes confidence)
…..The drink comes out and it says “Atticus”. Awesome. A for effort.

It’s not all bad though. Here’s why:

When you have an unusual name….
— You can get an awesome nickname.
— It’s very unlikely that you’ll be in that awkward situation where you have the same name as someone else.
— People will sometimes tell you that you have a beautiful name. Maybe they’re just saying this because they don’t know wtf you just said, but maybe they really mean it. Either way, take the compliment!
— I don’t know about you, but I actually remember a complicated name easier than I can remember a simple one. ***This might be because I actively put effort into remembering. Or maybe it’s just my empathy towards people with the same plight as myself. Who knows.

People with the weird names, I feel you. Although I don’t have a solution for you, I’m here to recognize: the struggle of an unusual name is real.

Story by VF writer: Radhika of The Snobby Foodie