Cher, Madonna, Beyonce, Bono, Sia, Drake, Adele, Charo, Kesha, Ludacris, Moby, Twiggy, Usher, Pink, and Oprah. What do these 14 celebrities all have in common? They’re all known by one name. Although it might not be a birth given one, they are still addressed by everyone as this particular name and it somehow sticks. I myself have a similar issue where I am addressed by one name. Although it’s not made up, it’s my last name and it’s something that everyone from friends to teachers, to random people that I’ve met only once address me as. After years of being called “Wong,” here are some truths I’ve discovered.
1. People are convinced your last name is your first name
Sometimes it may take them months, even years later to realize your first name isn’t actually your last name. I have had several incidents where I have been addressed by my first name and someone asks, “Who’s Cheyenne?” And I could have known them since middle school. Or the best is when I get asked, “So what made your parents name you Wong?” Well, they didn’t really get to pick that name, did they?
2. Acquaintances will call you by your last name
I’m sorry, it is a privilege to call me what my close friends and family call me. It is a privilege that is earned, not given. But really. Sometimes someone will hear my last name being addressed and will just pick up and start calling me the same thing. Jokes on me when I thought I could come to college, starting fresh, meeting so many new people who didn’t know me. I introduced myself as Cheyenne. And before I know it “Wong” came back around like the psychotic ex-girlfriend you thought you got rid of.
3. You have introduced yourself with your last name
Jokes on you when you try to break the habit but then you do the same thing everyone else has done. I, on more than one occasion, have met someone new. Perhaps even someone I am trying to impress. A job interview, a cute boy at the bar, someone official. And just like word vomit, I say, “Hi, my name is Wong.” Majority of the time their reaction is very weirded out and then I have to say, “I’m so sorry my name is actually Cheyenne but my last name is Wong.” And as I fumble around trying to clean up my mess, it either becomes a great story to talk about down the road or an awkward encounter that you just want to get away from and never speak of again.
4. Your friends haven’t called you by your first name in years
Sometimes your friends may genuinely forget that you actually have another name, or that you have a first name for that matter. Sometimes you may have to ask yourself. “Do my friends really even know me?” Sometimes when they introduce you to other people, and they end up using your real first name, you feel a bit proud because you know they care about making you sound better than you are.
5. When people call you by your first name you think they’re upset with you
It’s as if sometimes your name, and what they call you is a term of endearment. So when they decide to call you by your proper name it’s similar to your parent’s scolding you and using your full name. First, middle, and last name in that tone. So you can’t help but find that being called by something proper is an indication that you are about to be lectured, scolded, or told something serious that results in something negative. But sometimes your friends just like to throw you the curveball.
6. If you have siblings it gets confusing
Chances are your siblings will also be referred to by the same name. When you’re all together it can get confusing as to who is being called on. For myself, I have a brother who shares mutual friends as me. In high school, it was common that we participated in the same activities and it was just one big mess figuring out who was talking to whom.
So there you have it, some of the norms that happen when you’re’ addressed by only your last name. But if we’re being honest here I, myself wouldn’t’ have it any other way. Your name is a symbolic piece of you and is part of who you are. So I’ll be damned if I get to share a similar characteristic with some of the greatest celebrities out there.