My “That’s Not My Name” Name

I’m terrible with names. Like, really bad. It’s as if when I sense you’re going to tell me your name, my brain bleeps it out. With advancing years, my declining social fear allows me to just admit this.

“Sorry, I know you JUST TOLD ME, but I’ve already forgotten your name.” Then I recite and recite and recite it in my head, which usually means that I’m not listening to what you’re now saying, and that’ll make me appear rude, and you’ll wander off, making my effort to remember you futile.

“Oh, there’s Bob. He thinks I’m an idiot.”

I’ve also had a sense for some while that I’m not only really bad at remembering names, in comparison with other people, but I’m also comparatively memorable to them. It can’t just be that my own name is unusual. I don’t know what it is, but I know way fewer people than know me.

But I’ve noticed something.

There is a proportion of the world who know me. Know that I exist. Have seen me around. At home, at my children’s school. In my office, and the offices of my clients, or in other organisations with whom I do business.

Some of these people know my name. We’ll exclude them, because they’re not relevant here.

Of the rest, there are some who have no idea what my name is, and there are others, who think that they do know.

It’s this latter group that is interesting. Overwhelmingly, these people all agree (subconsciously, it’s not like they formed a committee or something) on what my name is.

That’s my “That’s not my name” name. And it is…


Nigel? Seriously? Are they all making plans for me?


Although Nigel shares many of the same letters with my actual name, it seems odd to me that over the long period of which I’ve been aware of this phenomenon, there’s a strong correlation between me and a name that – while sharing many components – doesn’t really sound like my name at all.

Is it just me? Do you have a “that’s not my name” name? Feel free to share it below!