How to Live With an Unusual Name

So you have a freaky/weird/unusual name?

2 October 2018

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Hi, my names Riley-Rose and I’m the owner of an unusual name. Having an unusual name can be testing and certainly character building. You’re constantly met with ‘pardons’ or ‘oh that’s original!’, and you’d sure as hell better get used to repeating it more than once. It gets misspelled, mispronounced, and you start opting for fake names at Starbucks... like Bob because it seems to simplify the whole process for everyone involved.


When I worked in a bank and customers forgot my name, a lot of the time they’d ask for the girl with ‘the double barrel first name’. Just to clear up any confusion - because I’m often met with nods and polite smiles when I tell people this – Riley-Rose is my first name. No, Rose isn’t my last name, my middle name or a name I added so people would compare me to Ruby Rose.


Having a hyphenated first name was confusing. When I was growing up, I shortened my name to just ‘Riley’ - genius, I know. However, it opened a whole other avenue of name hang-ups for me; mainly that Riley was more commonly a boy’s name. I remember wanting to change my name to something more prettier. Like Tabitha. A name I asked my mum to start calling me when I was 10.

Oh to have a simple name like Jess, or Sarah, or Emma - must be heaven. And to be able to find your name on personalised name plates, key rings or coke bottles, it must be such a joy.

‘You gave me a boys name!’ I’d complain to my mum. She loved my name though. While she might have felt bad for a split second, I think she was fairly confident in her unusual name choices. For example, my mum desperately wanted to call my sister Tallulah-Poppy. My dad hated it. They settled on Cheyenne.

It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? It’s just a name. A name is just a handy title we can use instead of saying ‘hey you’ to our peers constantly. People get called way worse things than their name every day.. like knuckle-head or snookums.


I read recently that 1 in 5 mothers suffer with name regret or ‘namers remorse’. I don’t blame them. I can’t think of anything more difficult than coming up with a name for a child. That’s their name FOREVER. You are responsible for what they’ll get called at school, whether it rhymes with nose (note: this seems insignificant, but kids LOVE names that rhyme with nose i.e. ‘Riley-Rose picks her nose’) or the fact that down the track it might be associated with a terrorist group. Yes, some people out there’s name is Isis. How unfortunate.


And people are super judgey about baby names too.

In the same way I have blatantly judged celebrities’ choice of baby names. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple, Kim and Kanye’s North West and I don’t know who Holly Maddison is (apparently, she’s on E!) but I’m now slightly obsessed with her kid’s name – Rainbow Aurora (I hope she opens a crystal shop when she grows up). I also came across the late Frank Zappa’s kids’ names – Moon Unit and Diva Muffin.

Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at New York University told Yahoo Parenting “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that begins with an unusual name and ultimately leads to unconventional or creative thinking” this is great news for us unusual name bearers. “When you think of yourself as different, you might in turn think and behave differently.”

So, what do you do if you have a freaky/weird/unusual name? Firstly, don’t blame your parents, because chances are they are probably one of those five parents who have namers remorse – don’t make them feel worse.

Secondly, it only costs about $107.90 to change your name at the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages if you really hate your name that much. But, honestly, changing your signature, your business cards, your email, letting your grandmother know – that’s going straight in the ‘too hard’ basket if I’m honest.

And thirdly, embrace your unusual name! Because once people get the hang of it, they probably won’t forget it.


We found out who has an unusual name here on The Border! Listen below:

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