I grew up being called by my full name, Sarah May. No one else at school was called by their first and last name, but I was. Class rosters would be posted with just first names, except mine. There’s it sat. All 8 letters typed out on the page. I’ve heard all the jokes. Sarah May I go to the restroom? Why wasn’t I born in May they ask….
However, I crack my own jokes some days. I once convinced a group of third graders my first name was April.
“Your name just sounds so southern” I am told over and over and over. Occasionally my easy to remember name has played in my favor, but for the most part, it’s just annoying. I remember my senior year, I was working on a project with a girl whom I knew well and took many classes with. She went to put our names on our project only to stop. She looked at me and asked, “Hey, what’s your last name?” “May” I replied. A look of shock came across her face as she processed this information. “I thought your first name was Sarah May this whole time”
Despite my southern upbringing, Sarah May is not actually a double first name, it’s simply my full name. If I had a dime every time this conversation took place, I wouldn’t need a day job. I started retaliating with people when they greet me with “Hey Sarah May!” (Side note, this rhymes and I detest using it) I reply with “Hey John Smith” and they usually look at me as if I have just spoken gibberish. I’m simply reciprocating the gesture of calling others by their full name as they have done to me. I fear unless I marry a man with the last name of “Lee” people will continue to call me by this name until the day I die.
Don’t be fooled my friend, about my easy name. NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO SPELL IT. “Sarah with an “H” and may like the month” is my default when following the questions of “What’s your name”. I’ve only been doing this for 29 years, it’s not annoying at all. So simple, yet so very difficult for so many.
I’ve met a million other Sarahs and it’s a thing amongst the Sarahs of the world. People who spell their name Sara cannot be friends with those of us who spell it the right way, with an “h” on the end. I have never been friends with a Sara nor will I ever be. Sorry, not going to happen. It’s such a common name I once played soccer with 3 other girls named Sarah. This little name never caused any problems when our coach said: “Go in for Sarah”.
When I signed up for my she speaks writing conference last summer, I was emailing back and forth with event staff to set up my itinerary for the weekend only to get an e-mail that read “Oh, we sent you the wrong schedule, there’s another Sarah May at the event”. Of course, there is someone out there with my name, there’s always another Sarah and by default, I am Sarah May. Now, though, there were two of us. I was unsure of how to handle this little name thief.
We’re both trying to make it in the writing world and only one of us will get the rights to this bad boy we call our name. Unless that other writer chick, Sarah Mae, yells at us. Back to my story. I checked into the conference and when I told them my name at least 4 people looked at me and yelled “You’re the other Sarah May!” apparently, they gave other Sarah May my packet when she checked in. The conference staff found this hysterical. I almost laughed.
I walked into my first session and was introducing myself to someone when all I hear from behind me is “Oh my Gosh, you’re the other Sarah……..” There she was, my name thief sitting in a chair behind me. Of all the sessions and all the women there, I didn’t think she would be sitting in the chair behind me in session one. Turns out she’s from Georgia too. Because why not?
My name twin turned out to be a lovely woman who joined in on the name game. We spent the rest of the conference passing each other in the hallway yelling “HEY Sarah May!” and the other replying the same way only to confuse the people standing near us. We laughed at this… and then we showed up today two of the conference wearing similar outfits… I greeted her with a “Seriously, stop copying me!” I guess my name twin can remain my twin after all.
When I drove home after meeting my name twin I realized some truths about life. While this whole ordeal was annoying and comical all at the same time, it was a reminder in how we all think we’re the only one with an experience. We don’t know the story of the person sitting behind us. We make think we are the only ones going through an experience or the only ones who feel a certain way. The truth, though, is other people bear the same names we do. Single parent, widower, teacher, coach, cancer survivor, recovering addict, the list goes on and on. So often we want people to know us and the names we bear, but the truth is, you’re not going to find your name mates if you don’t speak up.
However, if name thief and I both make in the writing world, she married into the name and it’s my birth name, so technically I had it first and it’s mine.