It's Alexandra, thank you very much

An argument for why you should actually call people by their name.

My name is Alexandra*

It means that I am the Defender of man(kind).

It’s 4 syllables long.

And takes between 0.8 and 0.9 seconds to say depending on how you stress the first and second “a.”

And yet, very few people choose to identify me by my name. Meaning, very few choose to pay me the courtesy of recognising my identity.

Bye identity, it was nice knowing you

That may sound harsh, but when you choose to call me Alex, Alexa, Alexis, Lexie, Sasha, Aly, Al or A to save your breath (or typing fingers), you take away who I am. And when you call me Alexandria, you officially make me a lost city in Egypt. I am no longer me. Those qualities that are characteristic of an Alexandra (which I’ve outlined in the graphic above) no longer apply. You might as well call me Jane.

The same applies to when I’m asked what I prefer. Does Apple ever get asked if it’d prefer to be called Microsoft? Oh you think that’s a stretch do you? Well but haven’t people taken another name (Alex for example) and tried to pass it off as my name? 


And no, I don’t find it charming when people say, “Alex…” then look and me, sheepishly smile and say, “andra.” I can’t tell if it’s a joke when I’m told it’s hard to remember to say the whole thing (especially when we don’t just say ‘Angelina’ for Angelina Jolie). But maybe Alexandra just gets shortened because it’s got natural nicknames. But who’s to say we can’t start saying Cum for Malcom? Or Tin (Martin). Or Hard (Richard). Or Hell (Helen). What’s a name for anyways?

Here’s a bit of insight into how my brain works when you call me Alex:

1) I get a vision of geese running around in a frenzy flapping their wings yelling “Alex! Alex! Aleexxxxxx!”

2) My body twitches. Instantly.

3) It then tenses as I force a smile, choosing to let go (remember, a characteristic I don’t possess) and acknowledge you.

{Now this is where if I don’t know you, I ask you politely to refer to me by my name. OR, if I already have asked you, die a little inside and then begin to question how much I want to like you}

4) Remember this isn’t personal. You didn’t call me Alex because you wanted to be mean or have my blood boil. You just did it because you thought it was ok. You made that assumption. And you may have made it because you heard others say it. But instead of asking me what I prefer, you go along with the masses.  Or maybe you just forgot. You just forgot that I’ve asked you to say Alexandra. And you keep forgetting 10 times. 20 times. 

The fact is, our names automatically define our personalities. Hear me out. Think about certain people you really click with, and others you just can’t wait to never see again. When you actually analyse who is on your “Yes, No or Maybe List,” you might find they tend to have the same, or similar names. My closest friends are both called Rachel. Both are funny, easy going, grounded, hard working, security-seeking, and routine-focused. They are different, yes, but share the same core qualities. I won’t share the names of people I don’t get along with, but I will tell you why Alexandra’s, Alex’s and Aly’s/Ali’s are in fact different names:

WE ARE ALL ANAL PERFECTIONISTS (if I may generalise). The mere fact that I’m writing this article shows that Alexandra’s are stubborn, controlling and prideful. Alex’s too enjoy having their way, but are a bit more laid back (hence in part why they don’t care if you’ve shortened their name). Aly’s can be extreme worriers and sticklers, and each one I’ve know only likes to be called by their shortened name. We’re all cut from the same cloth, but we vary along the spectrum of insanity, errm intensity.

The power of saying someone’s name

Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. - Dale Carnegie

These words couldn’t be truer. Our name, despite possibly sharing it with thousands of people around the world, is unique to us. It’s the alarm that calls us to attention. It’s proof that someone recognises you, and has taken the time to remember you.

Now take a moment to think of the people you call by name. And now the people you simply say “hey or um” to. In some ways there’s a certain intimacy to a name, a certain level of comfort. When you can’t seem to say a name, it shows either 1) you can’t remember the name, 2) you aren’t sure if you heard (for example) Neil or Neo so you refer to something generic, or 3) there is some level of intimidation associated with calling that particular name.

Nicknames are A-OK

There are people who don’t care whether they go by Will or William. And if you fall under that category you might be reading this thinking just get over it Alex *cringe*. But the difference is that you have accepted that nickname as your name. And you would only accept that name if you found that it represented you.

So here’s where I twist the plot: I have a nickname. But I don’t give it out willy-nilly. It stems from a tradition with my mom and it's used as a term of endearment. It’s three letters, 2 syllables, and sounds powerful. Just like Alexandra.

I’m simply asking you to call me by my name. Which, quite frankly, should never be an ask. I shouldn’t have to beg. Someone’s name should not be ugh such an effort to say. Someone’s name shouldn’t be too long. I shouldn’t have to remind you. You should just know. My name is Alexandra.

*NB: if you have called me anything but Alexandra, this article is not an attack on you, nor do I hold a grudge. It was written to raise awareness around how we make people feel and the importance of truly listening to someone; how in turn, we can make them feel special. I have generalised and over dramaticised within the article to prove a point, so please don’t take offence.