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What Was Your Name Again?
June 25, 2022

I’m writing about this because I want to figure it out. Do better. Make this less of a problem.

It’s about names. Names that refuse to roll off my tongue, or if they do, in error.

Book Club

Good to be back together again!

After a long hiatus, my neighborhood book club met, in person, last week. It was lovely. I invited my new-ish next-door neighbor and determined I would introduce her around. I focused on getting her name right, and I did. But when I introduced her to Darcy, I said, “Judy, this is Darlene.” When I introduced her to Elaine, I said, “Judy, this is Ellen.” 

We do have a Darlene and an Ellen amongst our members, but neither was in attendance. It was embarrassing to me. I consider both Darcy and Elaine good friends and I wouldn’t want them to think I don’t care enough about them to have their names on instant recall.

This Is Not New

When I was a teacher, I once called a student by the wrong name on the last day of school. He was hurt. He said, “Really, Mrs. Dixon? It’s the last day of school and you’re still calling me by the wrong name?” I felt sad. I knew having over a hundred names to remember was no excuse. I had colleagues who made it a priority to memorize all their students’ names within a very short time. It was possible, but I always struggled.

Meeting someone new is a battle even though I love meeting new people. It’s exciting. And I’m sorely impressed by those who can remember names after an initial introduction. I suck at this. I’ll even ask them, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” And still, I don’t truly take it in.

That Precious Pause

See that question mark? That must be where the instant recall of names once resided.

BF says it’s an anxiety thing and I just need to pause a minute. But I don’t think our culture allows for conversational pause. When I pause, people finish my sentences. Jump in and rescue me. Even my granddaughters have taken to finishing my sentences. 

Once, I had read an article by one of my gurus suggesting that when someone invites you to do something, take a pause. Allow yourself the space to “feel” whether or not this is something you really want to do. I tried this and a friend said to me, “Are you okay?” She thought I might have suffered some physical calamity. And then I realized I needed to explain my pause, “Let me think on this and I’ll get back to you.” I further realized that’s exactly what people are doing when they say, “Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you.” 

Glennon Melton said recently on her podcast that when someone introduces themselves to her, she automatically introduces herself back to them using their name. I have empathy for her.

Please understand, it’s not that I don’t care. People and their names are important to me. I understand how nice it is when people remember me and my name. And yet, I may need to be with a person–especially if it’s in a group–several times before their name rolls easily off my tongue, and maybe never if I try to introduce them to another person. Such a dilemma, this is, for a person who loves connecting people to other people.

I have no answer for this stage fright for name recall. No fix. I can only vow to do better. And maybe that process begins by writing about it here.

Suggestions anyone? 

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  1. I believe some people have a “knack” for remembering names. It is perfectly normal for some of us not to remember names:) Knowing you Debi, I believe you never forget a face! A book I read indicated you have to repeat then name 13 times to remember an acquaintance and that’s why some people will repeat your name several times when they meet you. Probably read the same book! ?

    • Well, Joni, I guess it’s a good thing we all have different “knacks!”

      • We had a house full
        Of people last night, some i knew well, others i have never met and some i have only met once. I had a pep talk with myself and i made a conscience effort to do better. Last night was good but i will goof up again! The struggle is real…

        • Yes, the struggle is real for many of us. Thanks for sharing.

      • ??

  2. I feel your pain, Debi. Name recall has ever been an absolute strength for me, and it becomes more challenging not only to learn new names, but at times to recall names I have known for years.
    We are not alone in this struggle… and the struggle is real.

    • Thank you, Judy. And yes, we are not alone.


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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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