What’s in a Name?
Posted by wendiwendy
When I was young – I’m not sure of the exact age, but probably around 11 or 12 – I decided to play with the spelling of my name. I think a lot of kids probably do this, don’t they? I tried Wendee and Wendie and Wendi, writing them over and over in a notebook. (I was hard-core into pen-palling and also tried out different styles of handwriting at the same time.) Eventually I realized I really liked writing Wendi instead of Wendy; I felt like it flowed easier from the tip of my pen. I started using that spelling in all of my pen pal letters, and eventually it crept into all of my everyday usage.
By the time I was a young adult, even my official documents were spelled with an i instead of y. I was so used to spelling my name that way that it just felt natural, and I kind of forgot it was really spelled Wendy on my birth certificate. My driver’s license, checks, even my social security card, at one point, were all spelled Wendi.
When I was 21, I bought my first house and got my first taste of red tape thanks to my name spelling. I had to sign an actual stack of documents with all the iterations of my name (Wendy Maiden Name, Wendy Married Name, Wendi Maiden Name, etc. etc.) that documented that the person with this name spelling was also known as this other name. It was a bit of a pain in the ass, but my hand was already numb from signing papers – what’s a few more signatures?
Over the years, various agencies really started cracking down on the name spelling issue. I had to be careful to use the spelling on my birth certificate if I was getting something that required me to present my birth certificate (marriage license, driver’s license, new social security card). I still kept Wendi on my checks (banks were late to the ‘make it official’ party, I guess) and in all my personal correspondence.
I started having to explain it a little more, though. People would fall all over themselves to apologize if they spelled my name ‘Wendy’ and I would explain that it was actually my official spelling – I just use Wendi for casual use. Then they’d kind of look at me weird. I don’t know why it was such a big deal; I mean, Dave’s official name is David and nobody freaks out about him using the name Dave! But I started having to explain things more and more over the years, and started just using Wendy in more cases – like the doctor’s office.
When we moved to Michigan, I had to get all new documents again and I took the chance to make a full change to Wendy when I did that. My checks, driver’s license, lease, all the various medical professionals I had to switch over to – all of that switched from Wendi to Wendy. The only time I was spelling my name with an i was in email and places like Facebook.
The thing is, though, now Wendi was starting to feel artificial to me because I was so used to spelling my name the real way, with a y. So a week or so ago, I changed my name on Facebook and in my email.
It took a while for people to notice (it’s not like it was a huge change, after all) and then a lot of people were curious why I changed it. It’s funny, isn’t it, how something you do kind of frivolously as a kid can carry through into adulthood. For the longest time, spelling my name Wendi instead of Wendy was just not a big deal, and it was never questioned. In this day and age of accountability and identity theft and having to prove you are who you say you are, though, it was really becoming a problem. So I just took the easiest solution.
Now I need to reverse my reassurance — to people who apologize for spelling my name Wendi instead of Wendy. It is seriously fine with me however you want to spell my name – I love and respond to both spellings.
My kids, though, better still call me Mom (or Momma, or Mama). 😉 The jury is still out on what my grandma name will be – Nana? Grandma? Grammy? We’ll find out next year!