#438 Your Almost Name

It’s what your parents were going to call you but didn’t.

Flipping through baby books, chatting at bedtime, you better believe your folks had alternate identities in mind before you borned out. They thought about nicknames, shortforms, and tributes. They thought about spelling, rhyming, and meanings. Basically, they thought and hoped and wished all kinds of things for you even before you made it here.

Sometimes when you find out your Almost Name it feels odd and uncomfortable — like putting on an itchy shirt, clenching your fist after waking up, or walking out of a movie and realizing your foot’s asleep. Maybe you let your mind wander and daydream about a new life where your Almost Name takes top billing and your nicknames, identity, and major life choices are all dramatically affected. You wonder how your life could be different — would you be more confident? Less passionate? More artsy? Less annoying?

Nothing’s the same when you’re Nancy.

Everything changes when you’re Chuck.

Now, my Almost Name is Paul.

Yes, it was a close call and my parents switched over to Neil at the last minute. I’m pretty sure Neil Diamond or Neil Armstrong got the name bouncing around their brains like a ping pong ball. But somehow Paul got tossed in the can before I showed up and my entire Paul Life got tossed with it.

And maybe that’s one reason Almost Names are so great: they remind us how lucky we are to get something else. I mean, it’s fun letting Almost Names add frames and borders to our lives … because it helps us feel a little more sure of ourselves and a lot more


Photos from: here, here, and here

242 thoughts on “#438 Your Almost Name

  1. Because my dad thought he was too old to be a parent (& because they already knew I was going to be a girl), it was decided that I would have a (traditional) German name, so I was almost an Ingrid, but a woman with alzheimer’s at the senior center where my mom worked said that, because of our last name, I would get made fun of at school. Then they almost named me Katharine, but that was vetoed because my paternal grandmother, maternal oldest aunt, & at least 1 cousin were all named Katharine, so I became Caroline Elisabeth after my grandmothers’ maternal aunts and mothers. The funny (& annoying) part is that most people think that my name is Katharine anyway (how they get Katharine from Caroline is beyond me, but oh well).

  2. My almost-name was Ashley, but my dad said it was too common… so I got something more distinctive (or at least more out-of-date: I was born in ’95). If I were a boy, I would have been Mark.

  3. My almost-name is Amanda.

    I got Ashley. My mom won- my dad thought Ashley was a man’s name (he watched too much Gone with the Wind).

    Which is the lesser of two evils?

  4. Had I not been female, I would have been Kenneth. My dad wanted a daughter named Kathryn after his grandmother, and my mother a son named Ken after her late brother. So, it’s up to you who to say this post is from: Kathryn or almost-Ken

  5. My almost name was Joanna. I’m not sure why my parents decided against it, but apparently I was nameless for a whole week after my birth, during which time my sister called me Sedgley, after a cartoon character I reminded her of.
    I’m just grateful that sedgley didn’t stick.

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  7. Both my brother and I were going to be Lisa Nicole.
    Then he popped out and was a boy.
    Then I popped out and I, a girl, am still not Lisa Nicole.
    They let my brothers, at age 5 and 3, name me.

    My mother made a little song about it….

    “We were gonna name you Lisaaa, but instead we named ya Theresa!!”

  8. My almost name was Skye Marie. My mom change dit at the last minute ( literally day before I was born) I had my daughter 1 year ago, and I named Her Skye, becuase I have been in love with that name ever since I learned it was my almost name. It fits her. :-)

  9. As someone who isn’t fond of their actual name, I find almost names very interesting. Now, I’m not sure I’d have been pleased with Franklin, but it makes me wonder what middle name I might have had. As it stands, I greatly dislike Jessica and am working on changing it.

  10. My legal name is Kathryn (which I don’t like for me), but I go by the Ukrainian translation of Katrusia (which I absolutely love) everywhere but the doctor’s office. I have an older sister named Anastasia Katherine (translated to Katarina), so I guess my folks really loved Kathryn/erine! My parents joke that if we’d been boys, one of us would have been Michael Roman and one would have been Roman Michael. Given the Kathryn/erine situation, I believe them. Yay for X chromosomes!!

  11. Well I’m a girl and my names Spencer…. I’m pretty sure I would have been spencer either way haha but my middle name is Madison, they were thinking about calling me Madison but changed there minds.

  12. I actually don’t think I have an almost name! I know my younger brother did though. His names Samuel but my parents almost named him Nathaniel. I’m glad they stuck with it cuz the name fits him perfectly. Plus, I can call him some pretty cool nicknames like My man Sam! And also my names Pam so they rhyme! :D

  13. My almost names are Hannah and Ariel. One night during my mom’s pregnancy, she dreamt she was walking through a cornfield. Then a thunderous voice stopped her and said, “Name her Candace!” She thought it was actually God, so she named me Candace. Thank you, Lord.

    All of the men in my stepdad’s family have the first name Thomas and go by their middle name. My little brother was going to be named Thomas Quinn. I was in favor of Quinn at the time. He was named Cash (a variation of Cashel) instead. I’m so glad he wasn’t named Quinn now. I don’t even want to imagine him as anything other than my little Thomas Cash.

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