When I was a little girl, I hated my name. Roll call on the first day of school was embarrassing. Teachers stuttered and kids stared. I was shy and didn't like the attention.
I would always come home and ask my mom and dad why they gave me a boy's name. The answer was always the same. "We liked it and had a different name picked out if you were a boy. Don't worry. It will build character."
It never made me feel better, and I would dream of having a normal name like Jen, Whitney or Katy. Unlike today, in the 70's and 80's it was a cultural stretch to be a girl named Stevyn.
But, I learned to deal with it and to even find humor in the struggle. When I turned 18, the government called to make sure I was enrolled in the draft. When I got into business, people were shocked when a woman walked in.
The most common question I've been asked my whole life is, "Did your parents want a boy?" I would tell them the same thing my parents told me...my parents liked Stevyn for a girl and had a different name picked out for a boy. Over time, my life's theme song became "The Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash.
Then my answer changed. A couple of years ago I learned more about the origin of my name. We were at my dad's 70th birthday party when someone came up and asked me a familiar question, "Did your parents want a boy?" My dad was standing right there, so I laughed and suggested that we get the answer from the source.
To my amazement, I heard my dad tell a story that I had never heard before. It went something like this.
While my mom was pregnant with me he was trying to make ends meet by selling insurance door-to-door. He knocked on one door, and a black woman answered. After talking to her briefly, he learned that she was a single working mother putting herself through college.
He was impressed that she was working hard under very difficult circumstances to improve her life. The next words he said are seared in my mind. "She had grit and a winsome personality. Her name was Stevyn."
I was floored. I had never heard this before in my 40+ years on this planet.
So, I'm named after a strong, determined woman with a winsome personality. Whoever she is, hats off to her for making such an impression on my dad and for giving him the idea for my name.
I think my parents were right. My name did play a vital role in who I am today. I'm all grown up, now, and no longer hate my name. I haven't for a long time. It's who I am.
I'm the girl named Stevyn.
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