my name is…


Not Jennavieve, not Geneve, not Genvieve, not Genevive and not Jennifer.


I’ve never not liked my name, but I’ve never loved it either. As a little girl I always found it so long to write, and I always got my i’s and e’s mixed up, and half the time I forgot an e somewhere… To this day I occasionally miss out the second to last e, and then I sit back and look at what I’ve either written or typed, and for the life of me cannot figure out why it looks wrong. And then I literally smack myself when I realise that I have misspelt my own name. I’m 27 years old and I still spell my own name wrong…

My mom shortened my name to Gena, and most days I actually introduce myself to people as Gena. Yes, it gets misspelt, often starting with a j instead of a g, and then of course the double n, but I just smile and spell it out; G E N A. Gena. Oh Gina? No, Gena, like Jenna, but Gena. You understand my own confusion surrounding my own name now, right?

My mom said that she named me Genevieve, because she wanted something different, and that she didn’t know any Genevieve’s, and that it wasn’t a common name. I have since spent most of my life trying to fit in, to anything really. In preschool, I was the girl that cried at EVERYTHING. I was also the very bossy girl that didn’t make friends very easily. In primary school, I was the girl who still didn’t have any close friends, didn’t really participate in anything, and pretty much kept to myself. In senior primary school, I was the girl who had her nose in a book pretty much all day every day, and managed to make 1 close friend, a year before I left school. In high school, I didn’t know anyone as I’d moved, and all I wanted was to fit in with the pretty, popular girls. I was one of 2 girls in my year with my name, but she was Jennavieve and I was Genevieve. Of course her name was always spelt right; I had to get 2 name badges because my first was missing that dammed second to last e.

The most infuriating thing about my name is that whenever I introduce myself with my full first name, most people realise that it’s of French origin, and then ask “oh, do you speak French?” Do I look like I speak French? I can barely speak 2 of the 11 official South African languages; now you ask if I speak a language of a country that has absolutely nothing to do with South Africa? And again I smile and say no, no I do not speak French.

Looking at what I’ve written, I realise that what my mom did to me in naming me, is almost exactly what I’ve done to my own daughter. My daughter’s name is easy enough to spell; you spell it like you say it, Morgan-Lee. The problem is that it’s a double barrelled first name. No, her name isn’t Morgan or Lee, it’s Morgan-Lee. And wait, there’s more; Morgan-Lee Theresa Stander. It’s a mouthful just saying it; writing it down is another matter entirely!

When we grow up, we really do become our parents!


It's a wig, I promise ;)
It’s a wig, I promise 😉

This post was written in reply to the Daily Prompt.

Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IDENTITY.


12 Replies to “my name is…”

  1. I to have a bit of an unusual name. Carmela, I get asked if I am Spanish, if I am Italian, I have to simply say…. “No my dad was German he just liked the name” 🙂
    I don’t usually even correct people if the pronounce it wrong any more, I have learned to just go with the flow……. I enjoyed your post. With respect, hope, joy and love, Carmela


    1. I must admit that I no longer get annoyed at the mispronunciation or misspelling of my name; I’ve learned to live with it I suppose 🙂 You have a stunning name, unusual so I totally understand people asking you about its origins. It’s crazy that just because we have names that originate from other countries, people automatically assume that we are from that country or heritage!

      Thanks for the comment 🙂


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