'My name gave me social anxiety': woman urges parents to reconsider unique baby names

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A woman with a unique name has written an open letter to new parents asking them to think seriously about what they call their babies.

Alessia Cara said people rarely pronounce her name correctly and she often suffers anxiety meeting new people.

"I'm 26 years old and I can probably count on two hands the number of times a person has gotten the pronunciation of my name right on the first go," she wrote on Pop Sugar.

"Whenever someone does get it right, my jaw drops, because these moments are few and very far between - I often consider hugging the person for making me feel so normal.

"But the other 99 per cent of the time, people get my name wrong."

She said she has gotten into the habit of saying her name slowly, carefully enunciating all four syllables, when meeting people - only to have them still say it incorrectly.

In recent times she admits she has been helped by having a Canadian singer/songwriter who shares her name, as it's made people more aware of the pronunciation, but it's not a cure-all.

"I know what you're thinking ... what's the big deal, right?" she said.

"The big deal is that your name goes hand in hand with your identity, and when it is consistently messed up, it makes you feel less and less validated as a person."


Alessia said her whole life she's been called the wrong name, had to correct people for saying her name wrong, or had just chosen to put up with teachers, coaches and potential employers calling her something different for fear of rocking the boat.

"All of these incidents gave me social anxiety, made me feel like my feelings didn't matter, and put dampers on some of the most important moments of my life," she said.

"Being called by your actual name is the smallest courtesy that a person shouldn't have to ask for."

While she "totally understands the appeal of choosing a name for your child that isn't mainstream", she urges parents to think carefully about the implications.

"So please, when you're considering a unique name for your baby, think ahead," she wrote.

"Is the name spelled phonetically and easy to read? Can people understand it after hearing you say it once? If you speak it out loud, would most people know how to write it out without asking you how?

"These may seem like tiny, inconsequential details, but I cannot stress enough how these incidents build up and drive a person crazy over time.

"If you still choose to go unique with your baby's name, godspeed. Hopefully your child owns their name better than I have."