*Three Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
Tik Tok has become a favorite pastime of mine over the last few years. It is the silliest and best little time sucker around.
There is a current Tik Tok trend with the song, “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings,” where people post various photos of themselves and add text using the different names they might have been called at either different times in their lives or with different people in their lives. Celebrities even do it with different roles they might have portrayed in movies or tv.
My name has always been a bit of a funny thing for me. My birth name is Stephanie, but I’ve been called Stevie as long as I can remember. People are often shocked when they discover my name is formally Stephanie because it is used so rarely.
I had a very short, a la Dorothy Hamill, haircut for much of my childhood and was frequently mistaken for a boy because of the combination haircut and gender-neutral name. This always confused me because my ears were pierced since the age of two and I thought that should have been a clear giveaway that I was a girl. Right? But no, I would be called “little boy” or “young man” frequently by strangers out in public.
I also played lots of sports and was a bit of a tomboy throughout childhood. I was even the only girl on my 7th grade soccer team (because they didn’t offer a girl’s team at the time). Looking back, I bet I felt confident to do so because I was so frequently mistaken for a boy.
Throughout my school-age years, my name made me feel kind of different and odd in a way that I couldn’t embrace. My insecurities were too strong to overcome, and it just felt awkward and weird.
As I aged though, I began to embrace my name. People tended to remember me more than someone with a more common name. I also was simply just better equipped to truly own my name.
Stevie is who I am. It’s me. I think it fits. Over time, I’ve been able to create the personification I want my name to represent.
Maybe your name is one that is passed down through your family. Or your name means something that you embody and is grounding for you. Or maybe you just like your name because it is a huge part of your identity!
Especially working in diverse environments, names and pronouncing someone’s name correctly, or simply asking someone how they pronounce their name so you can say it correctly, can be so powerful. There are even voice pronunciation systems, like Name Drop, that allow you to add a recording of your name to your email signature. The simple act of pronouncing someone’s name correctly can signal inclusion. It shows you care enough about them to get it right.
Our names are powerful. And the stories of our names are powerful. All of the little pieces of our identities, like our names, ultimately combine to make up who we are as individuals. They all need to be able to come to work and show up with us every day, be part of our relationships, and displayed in various ways for us to feel seen and valued.
How can you honor someone’s identity today? How can you honor every bit of someone’s identity so they can feel valued as exactly the person they are each day? And, if you don’t know how to pronounce someone’s name, just ask. It really is that easy.
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Stevie Cromer is the Director of People and Culture for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.