I have been thinking a lot about my name lately. I know that sounds very self centred and like an extortionate waste of time, but I do have a very valid reason to be pondering over such a seemingly menial topic, so bear with me.
The thing is, my name has always been a confusing issue. And that is because my name is not actually Grace. My name is Lucy.
Forced to Change
When I was starting out in hairdressing, I worked for a rather large salon with a reputable name. I joined as an apprentice, a lowly junior, washing hair and sweeping floors simultaneously. There was a colourist called Lucy already working there and, before long, I was aware of people saying things like ‘Well, which Lucy do you mean?’ or ‘We have two Lucy’s here, what does she look like?’. Eventually that became annoyance in the staff room with ‘Ugh! Having two Lucy’s is SO conFUSING!’.
I didn’t think so. I knew who I was and who the other Lucy was. It didn’t seem a big deal to me, as I sat there in the midst of everyone’s irritation, and nonchalantly ate my Pret sandwich.
Soon enough though, my manager, thought differently.
One lunchtime I found myself sat in her office, being debriefed on how much of an inconvenience it was to have two employees that possessed the same name. How much confusion it was causing for the rest of the team, not to mention the clients ringing up for appointments.
My suggestions to abbreviate my name down to Lou (like some family members and friends have done) were rejected as we already had a Louise aka Lou within the team. It was ‘unreasonable’ and ‘impractical’ to expect people to keep explaining the difference between Lucy 1 and Lucy 2. There was nothing for it, I had to change my name.
‘I’m not changing my name!’ I exclaimed, half laughing as I thought it was a joke. Surely no one would be cheeky enough to make you change your name and call it management?!
‘Choose a name,’ my manager said, ‘Or I will have to choose one for you…’
I sat there dumbfounded and protested again. I couldn’t choose another name?! How could I? I liked my name. We’d been friends for a long time, since birth actually.
‘Well, what’s your middle name?’ asked my manager, rolling her eyes at this petulant teenager who was making a fuss over a name whilst she herself couldn’t care less about.
‘Grace,’ I mumbled.
‘Well, you’re lucky it’s nice,’ She said ‘As that’s what we’re calling you from now on, otherwise you can make your way out. Of the building.’
At a staff meeting, a short time later, the rest of the team were instructed to only refer to me as Grace. And under no circumstances were they to call me Lucy. It was all quite jovial but I remember being uncomfortable about it for a long time. It took ages to react if someone called for me! When introducing myself to people, I would stumble over my real name before finding the replacement. I’d stutter and blush, not because of my usual shyness, but because for a split second I couldn’t remember who I actually was!
But, sooner or later, I actually got used to using it. It was funny if I was out and about in town and I heard the name ‘Grace’ called because I would instinctively turn around, just the same as if someone called ‘Lucy’. It’s quite funny to have double the chance of having your name called, like winning an obscure game of bingo or something.
A Force of Habit
Over the years, my replacement name has stuck. The thing with hairdressing is, it can be quite transient. You work in different places, different areas. Therefore, clients who want to follow you around during these changes then need to be able to find you when you move on. And that is why a name is so vitally important. I couldn’t change my name as it would make it hard for people to find me.
And then, I started Style with Grace. Which meant the middle name gained even more importance and relevance than the first. My mother has actually always said she wishes she had given me Grace as my first name as it suits me more. The truth is, I like both equally. I am both equally. I don’t change my persona according to the name that I use. I’m just me, always me.
But, the reason I have been thinking about it lately is because I am finding it a little tedious, keeping up the two names thing. This is the first time I have typed all this down but I have told the story hundreds of times. Most find it confusing. Some have even found it unsettling and I have had clients almost get angry with me for not using my ‘real name’. Some have taken it to mean that I am living under witness protection. One even asked me if I was doing it for tax evasion??!
Nope. I just had a manager who didn’t want to deal with the extra hassle once. And now I feel the same!
So, from now on, I shall be known by my real name of ‘Lucy’. ‘Grace’ is still here. I am her, she is me. It will take a bit of getting used to but we will get there. I’m quite excited actually! It’s going to make things a lot more simple for me!
And, don’t worry, I will not be calling things ‘Style with Lucy’. Why spoil great branding?*
What do you think? Is it a good move to revert back to my own name or should I continue with using Grace? Your input would be greatly appreciated!
*One day I shall have to write down a good method of deciding a brand name and explain how I named my business, it’s a funny little story!