Love & Relationships

Can I Call You Ann?

Shiloh, consider yourself warned. As Brangelina’s offspring, you should have no problem in the looks department. However, your name could cause a few roadblocks since it is not a “normal” name. In this world of Katies, Matts, Als and Anns, your name requires extra effort. But you shouldn’t have too many problems since news articles about your name includes handy pronunciation instructions. For the rest of us with uncommon names, day-to-day life includes a few humiliations and struggles.

My name is pronounced “Ah-know-jah”, but when I say it to someone for the first time, I’m met with a blank stare, a tentative repetition or, worst of all, disdain and disregard. Every trip to Starbucks or Jamba Juice is fraught with apprehension as I await the new slaughter my name will endure. My high school tennis coach, overcome by mental anguish, asked if she could just call me Ann. I said no. In college, I dreaded the beginning of every semester with its new professors and new classmates who would all ask me my name. Business school brought countless recruiting events where potential employers seemed to glance at my chest incessantly. Later I realized they were just looking at my nametag for clarification.
I get mail addressed to both Mr. And Mrs. And once wrote a nasty email to my alma mater after they sent me a solicitation for a donation addressed to Mr. Anojja. Unfortunately, they seem to have removed me from their mailing list entirely, rather than changing me to Mrs. But perhaps the most demeaning experience happened right after I met my boyfriend at the time. His doorman kept referring to me as “Miss” even though I would say my name clearly when I arrived. When our relationship (the boyfriend, and by some extension the doorman) progressed from months to years, I became “Missy”. I suppose he meant it as a term of endearment, but it was just embarrassing to me. Friends walking into the building with me would ask why in the world he thought my name was Missy. When my boyfriend became my fiancé and I moved into the building, I explained to him that my name was in fact Anojja. He never spoke to me again and scurried away every time I entered the lobby.
My parents say they got my name from a book in a London library. They think it’s Samskrit, but they don’t know the exact meaning. For a long time I thought it meant “piles of garbage” or something along those lines, since I never met anyone else with the same name.As I grow odler and realize that fitting in immediately is not as important as knowing who you are and what that means, I’ve learned to love my name. I love its uniqueness, its symmetry on the page and the vent its superfluous “j”. I  love that no one else has my name, I hardly ever have to use my last name and I can usually get any email address that I want.But I discovered my favorite part of my name a few days before my wedding four years ago. I typed my name in Google looking for an English translation, and found out that Anojja was a goddess in my husband’s religion (Jainism). Neither I, nor my parents, had even heard of this religion before I met him, but somehow they managed to give me a name that provided me with an ancient link to him. I like to think it means he’s the One for me. At the very least, it gives me strength when Starbucks barista yells “latte for Ajoynia!”
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