The Burden Of Having A Slightly Uncommon Name

So I was born in the eighties which, I know, was like a million years ago. But I grew up in a time where the most common name for girls was “Lauren” or “Ashley” or “Katie” and being a Krista (with a K) was a bit of a novelty.

I’m not named after anyone. My parents decided upon the name randomly (apparently my mom had a student named Krista or something and she liked the name and it stuck). My sister was named after my grandfather and our great-grandma, so I always sort of resented the fact that her name had significance, while mine seemed to be pulled out of the destiny’s butthole of randomness*. Sure, it’s a nice enough name, but it’s always caused some problems for me.

First off, I was born the same year as the Challenger explosion**. I, for the record, am NOT named after Christa McAuliffe. Actually, I would have been kind of stoked to be named after Christa McAuliffe. But, alas, I am not. My name was apparently already settled on before the Challenger explosion (if I was a girl, Krista Renee, if I was boy, Christopher Robert and let me tell you, I am SUPER GLAD I was not born a boy because come on, mom and dad) and, after the disaster, my parents just said “screw it” and continued on with the name Krista even though that year it became synonymous with “poor teacher lady who died a fiery death.”

After Christa McAuliffe’s death, the name Christa grew in popularity. Now, check the spelling. It’s a CH not a K. The K thing has always (until recently) thrown people for a loop. Whenever I said, “It’s Krista with a K” people would stare at me with open-mouthed wonder, like I’d said I’m a “womyn with a y”. When you’re a kid and all you wanna do is fit in, this is a TRAGEDY OF EPIC PROPORTIONS***. My fellow students mocked me. Children are cruel little beasts, and spelling my name with a K made me prey.

Of course, this is accounting for the people who had actually heard of the name Ch/Krista. Then there was the other side. The people who can’t tell any name that starts with Kris/Chris apart or don’t know the name K/Christa at all.

These are the monsters who make little wish boxes or bracelets or nameplates in mass quantities and skip from Beatrice to Christina without a second thought. These are the animals who make little trophies in gift shops and are convinced that all names that start with “Chris” only end in “tine”. These are the corrupted goons who think a Ch and a K are interchangeable.No, they aren’t, manufacturers  Those of us with uncommon spellings of slightly uncommon names can’t settle for a slight misspelling of our names.

You think I could walk into my third-grade class with a bracelet that says “Christa” and get away with it? DO YOU?!

Clearly, you never attended elementary school.

Then there were the people who persevered in mispronouncing my name after I corrected them for the first time. I got to a point where I would respond to anything that starts with Ch/Kris (which I still do to this day, thought it’s slightly less relavant). The most prevalent of the mispronouncing was that most cursed of names… K©rystal.

Now K©rystal is not a terribly common name anymore, so maybe no one knows what I’m talking about. But in the eighties and early nineties, K©rystal might as well have been the Top Name To Name Your Stupid Kid Who Happens To Be A Girl. And good lord, did I feel it.

“What’s your name, little girl?” people would ask.

“Krista,” I would answer.

“K©rystal?” they would attempt to verify.

“Krista,” I would repeat.

“Okay, K©rystal,” they would say.

And I would fall silent, unable to fight the tide of K©rystal. I would just nod and think, “yes, your name is K©rystal now,” and grit my teeth and bear it with the steely resolve of a life-weary nine-year-old.

I even ended up naming one of my dolls Krystal. I thought I could give her a better life than the one I had known. It was noble. It was just. It is what every parent (or doll-owner) tries to do for their child (or doll).

But now I’ve reached a new stage in life. The name Krystal has dropped in popularity and Krista (yes, with a K) has risen. I still don’t see my name on bracelets or wish boxes or novelty license plates, but when I tell my name to a bank teller or a cable company employee or a relative who has forgotten who I am, they usually just nod and say, “Okay. Krista.”

And it is jarring.
Apparently my name is no longer slightly uncommon. It has become Common. It is a weird transition, not having anyone bat an eyelash or insist on calling me Christina anymore. It’s weird seeing my name (MY NAME) pop up on the internet, belonging to people who aren’t me. Hearing other people getting called Krista, and when I ask them if they spell it with a K with some superiority in my voice, they say “yes.”

I don’t know what to do with it, this oddly possessive ownership I have of my name and its spelling. I should be glad that people don’t call me K©rystal all the time anymore, that K©rystal has died the death of Tab (or C(K)rystal Pepsi). I should feel like “oh, finally” instead of this weird rage that, no, that’s MY name, how dare other people have it. How dare these young whipper-snappers not know the pain of having a slightly uncommon name. How dare they walk around with their One Directions and their Homestucks and their computer literacy and call themselves Krista with a K.
I suffered for this name! I was a trail-blazer! I OWN this name!

But I’m screaming into an apathetic ether. Because the uncommon names of today are truly uncommon. People are naming their kids after random objects and car companies and sexually transmitted diseases. They are now the true sufferers. I am just a commoner.

A peasant.

And that’s when I realize it. The horrible truth…

I am old****.

*unrelated to Destiny’s Child

**Let me be clear: I’m not saying that the plight of having a slightly uncommon name is equivalent to exploding while trying to fly into space. No one is saying that. Having a slightly uncommon name is really more equivalent to a mild inconvenience, like getting stuck in traffic when you have to pee or trying to have a conversation with a creationist about dinosaurs.

***conversely, when you’re a teenager with a rebel complex that mostly manifests in “other teenagers drink – I read TOLKEIN”, it’s a blessing

****Or a hipster, which might be worse*****.

*****it’s definitely worse

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