My Name: The Power of “a” Syllable

“What do you prefer – Trish or Trisha?”

“I don’t care, as long as you’re consistent!”

I’ve never been picky about my name. Unlike my brother’s name, which was my grandfather’s, my parents have ceded that mine holds no deeper meaning besides “sounding pretty.”

Some people have no problem with my answer and choose one option right away. I like it when this happens because it takes the pressure off me to choose for them. After all, I’m not lying when I say, ‘I don’t care.’

Other times, people hesitate and think for a second, sometimes pressing me by saying, “No, seriously, what do you prefer?” – to which I think, ‘Why would I lie and say I don’t care when I actually do?’ … but then I realize people would actually lie about that, and then I get sad.

“No, I really don’t care, I swear!”

Whenever this happens, I love seeing what people choose.

“Trisha,” as my full name, has an air of formality around it. The vast majority of people call me Trisha and do so because they never thought to ask my preference, which is totally fine! Why change the status quo for no reason? Sometimes, they are acquaintances who ask the question as a way to break the ice but also don’t want to break the ice completely by using a nickname too quickly, so they continue with my full name, which I find mildly amusing.

The other day, the instructor of my improv class asked this question while in the middle of teaching (which may or may not be the impetus for this entire post), and, in the moment, chose my full name, which I completely expected based on the scenario we were in. My response even got a couple of laughs, which is always welcome in an improv situation!

“Trish” has more the air of a nickname, so most people who choose to call me this are more familiar. In the literal sense, this includes most of my family (read: “Ate Trish,” “Tita Trish,” etc.). Among friends, this usually includes those who I’ve known for a while and only thought to ask my preference when they catch themselves calling me “Trish” randomly when they had been calling me “Trisha” for ages, which, again, is totally fine. Unlike the aforementioned acquaintances, they usually know me better and are more comfortable using a nickname.

I’m actually thankful for these moments, as they give me a tiny barometer reading of our friendship, along the lines of, “Aw, they would really call me Trish? We truly are friends!” (Not to say that people who call me “Trisha” aren’t friends – people show affection in different ways, after all.)

The only options that is weird to me is changing between the two. Just like a child thinking that they’re in trouble when their parent uses their full name, a sudden change in what someone calls me is a signal that something is off.

Did that person just call me Trish for the first time without asking? Are they coming on to me? Are we really close like that? Alternatively, does that other person usually call me Trish but just call me Trisha? Like the kid mentioned above, am I in trouble? Are we about to have a serious conversation?

At the end of the day, there is only one answer that is consistently incorrect – Patricia. In the words of the (immortal) Ting Tings, “That’s not my name!”

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