Why You Shouldn't Think Twice Before Giving Your Baby a Unique Name

Dear parents-to-be,

Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy. You probably have some ideas floating around your heads about what you might want to name him or her already, but in case you're on the fence, let me try to sway your opinion toward a beautiful unique name. You see, my name is Hedy. It's not entirely unusual, but chances are, you haven't met someone else with my name.

And if you looked at it and thought to yourself, "Sure, I've met several Heidis," then let me stop you right there and tell you my name is not Heidi with a different spelling. It's more like Eddie with an "H" in front. It's actually a very easy name, but one that people get wrong all. the. time. But even with constantly correcting people, I still would never, ever change my unique name.

Having a unique name isn't always awesome, especially when you're young and life in general is tough to navigate. Whenever I had substitute teachers in elementary school, I always knew when they reached my name during roll call because they would pause and either only call me by my last name or hesitantly guess at how my name is pronounced. And at a time when other kids can be so cruel, I didn't like that my name was tricky, allowing other kids to make fun of me. (Why a unique name is grounds for picking on someone is beyond me, but kids do things I'll never understand.)

Because of this, I went through a fairly long phase of wishing I had a different name. I had fantasies about having a short, sweet, easy name. I wanted my name to be Lee. I wrote it all over my notebooks and named my favorite Barbie that, so that even if I didn't have the name, my favorite doll would.

When I got to my teen years, though, I started to feel really grateful that I wasn't one of the four Katies in my class or one of the three Ashleys. It was a near miss, too, because my parents originally wanted to name me Katie but switched to Hedy after they sensed my impeding awesomeness. (My theory, anyway.) I was quick to correct anyone who got my name wrong and did it with pride. Yes, my name is unusual, and yes it is fantastic.

Yes, my name is unusual, and yes it is fantastic.

Settling into adulthood has given me a whole new perspective on my name and a new way of handling any issues with it. For one, I am now so used to people not having any idea what I'm saying when I introduce myself that I automatically say, "Hedy, H-E-D-Y, Hedy." Sometimes spelling it out helps people understand more clearly. (Not often, but sometimes.) I have also accepted that my name, for some reason, is tricky for people to read, and I don't bother correcting someone I'll never see again.

I love my name, but I also love my time and don't want to waste it on the conversation that I know would come next. ("Never heard that one before." "What is it short for?" "Were you named after someone?" And my answers: "Cool." "Nothing." "Yes.")

But above all, I love my name more than ever now for three reasons. The first reason is because I was named after my great-grandma Hettie. I never met her, but having a meaningful name that comes from someone special in my family automatically makes it better than any name picked off a list or from a book, in my opinion.

Secondly, as a writer, your name is your brand, and let me tell you, having a unique and memorable name is very useful. I can get away with never even needing to use my last name because I'm not going to come across any other Hedys in my field any time soon. (Sorry if there's another Hedy out there I don't know about, but I've sorta got the market cornered right now.)

And lastly it is wholly special and beautiful in its uniqueness. I love getting compliments on my name because it makes me feel good about myself, even though my parents are the ones who deserve the compliment for picking the name for me. I've embraced it and feel like it's not only the majority of my identity, but my favorite part of myself as well. There's something so special about having a meaningful name that isn't on a popular list and allows a person to really make it their own, and I honestly hope more parents hear me and give their kids their own unique names to love.

Best wishes on your family,
Hedy (No last name needed)