Say my name, say mye naym

I have a name that a lot of people find hard to pronounce. My first interaction with most people goes:

Me: Hi, my name is [X]
Them: [Y]?
Me: [X]!
Them: Do you pronounce it [x] or [X]?

The truth is, I don't care if people pronounce it [x] or [X]. (I don't even really care if they call me [Y]). I have many lifelong friends who call me [x] and many who call me [X], and I can't tell you which are which because I don't notice and don't remember. All I'm looking for in life is a sound sufficiently recognisable that I can tell if someone's talking to me.

However, I do care about not-having long conversations on how to pronounce my name, and about people not feeling so awkward about my name that they studiously avoid saying it as much as possible. So my strong personal preference is that people pronounce it however it comes out, rather than fixating on the "right" way to say it.

Very often, my first interaction with people continues like this:

... Them: Do you pronounce it [x] or [X]?
Me: I don't care, pronounce it however it comes out!
Them: No no, I want to say it right – how do you say it?
Me: [X]
Them: [x]? Is that right?
Me: That's fine!
Them: No, I want to say it right!

I try not to be annoyed at these people, because they're clearly trying to do what they think is "right." They have been told – or possibly, if they've got an unusual name themselves, felt – that the way you make someone feel included is by making great efforts to pronounce their name the same way they do.

And I'm sure there are people who genuinely feel this way, and appreciate the people who try to clarify pronunciations. But, as it happens, I feel way more "othered" by having my first interaction with someone be this particular excruciating negotiation.

I tend to think of this example whenever people talk about how "easy" it is to respect the preferences of [any group], because I suspect that for any group larger than... 10 humans? 3 humans? 2?, there will be people in that group with directly opposite preferences about how they want to be treated.

Which ultimately means you can't win; whatever choice you make will leave some people feeling unhappy. So I can't complain when people push to pronounce my name right, even though I'd personally prefer they didn't; I just wish they would listen to me after the first ~2 times I tell them I'd prefer they pronounce it however it comes out, instead of overriding my own preferences in order to (supposedly) make me feel comfortable.

Post script: I was talking about this with a socialite friend-of-the-blog recently and she said that I'm missing the point: it doesn't matter if I don't care how she says my name, she still needs to get it "right" because if she's talking about me with someone else and they think she's saying my name wrong, she looks like a bad friend.

I found this delightful because it successfully explains why people are overriding my own express desires – getting my name "right" was never about making me feel comfortable, after all.

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