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 the door of a black woman who he learned was a single mother working to put herself through college. (Keep in mind that this was back in the early 1970's which was a very difficult time for single mothers, especially a black single mother.) My dad said he was impressed with her grit and winsome personality. Her name was Stevyn.
I was floored. I had never heard this before in my 40+ years on this planet.
So, I was 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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