My Starbucks Name is Lin

Originally appeared on my Medium account.

Hi, my name is Maitlyn. It’s like Kaitlyn but with an “M.”

lin coffee name
This isn’t Starbucks, but you get the gist.

Back in the day, a typical substitute situation would go like this:

Substitute: [walks into the classroom]

Friend: [nudges me] Hey, bet you they won’t get your name right.

Me: We’ll see. The subs are getting better nowadays. It’s about 50/50 so I’m hopeful.

Substitute: Student’s name…student’s name…Mm…Mmmatilyn?? (pronounced like Madilyn)

Me: Sigh. Typical. Here! It’s Maitlyn.

Friend: [snickers]

Ah, curse you Mom for giving me such a unique name! Because of you I will never see myself represented on cheap souvenir magnets and Coca Cola bottles. Tis a pity.

“Wow, that’s so unique!”

I used to think of different names I would rather have than the one I was given. I considered Alexandra, Elizabeth and Alexis, even Kaitlyn! Actually, I hated Kaitlyn, so that was never an option. Kaitlyn, Caitlin, the ultra special Katelynn, and any other variation? Awful. Disclaimer: I don’t think people named Kaitlyn (inclusive of other spellings) are awful; I just don’t really like the name(s) because it rhymes with mine. Plus, I use it for context when introducing myself and my name. It’s a reminder of the “not real” status my name carries, which gets tiresome very quickly.

Long names that could be shortened to nicknames, especially unisex ones, have always appealed to me. My favorites were Alexandra and Elizabeth because there were so many possibilities to choose from.

Alexandra = Al, Allie, Alex, Lex, Lexi, Xan, Sandra, Andie, Andy, An, Alexi

Elizabeth = Elle, Ellie, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Betty

Names like Danielle (Dan, Dani); Andrea (An, Ann, Andie); and Samantha (Sam, Sammy) were cool too. The versatility of them is what attracted me the most because I could have a fairly common name and choose to make it more unique or more me by picking whichever nickname/shortening fit best. Plus, they’re unisex (which honestly is a stupid sexist way of looking at names) and as a child I was pretty misogynistic and didn’t like “girly” things. I know, I’m horrible.

“Huh, that’s really pretty!”

But as I grew older (unfortunately not taller too), I grew to like my name more. Truthfully, I’ve always liked it somewhat. It’s unique, and I thought it was the only unique thing about me for a long time. There was a small part of me that reveled in the novelty of my name because it made me feel different and special. Though I hated having people butcher my name, there was a pleasure in their hesitation, confusion, and nervousness upon seeing those lovely seven letters. I had something to lament about and prove to people who praised the “beauty” of my name that there were disadvantages to it too. There was valid pain, even if it was just a recurring annoyance. It was a weird masochistic relationship with personal nomenclature.

Like I said though, I do actually like my name, and it’s not just out of self-pity. It’s fun and different and pretty and good for nicknames. So far I’ve been called Mait, Maity, May-May, Mootlyn, and Moot (and Dobby, but that’s unrelated). I love them all. Except May-May. Too cute. But as far as nicknames go, I think I have a great foundation for some kickass Australian and pirate puns. Ahem, ahoymaity, ahem. And paired with my Phan-tastic last name, the possibilities are a-pun-dant.

“How did you get that name?” or “Is it…cultural?”/“Is that a typical Vietnamese name?”

Man, I wish the story behind my name was cooler. Like I have some badass relative who’s secretly a spy and takes down evil corporations and daylights as an elementary school teacher whose name was Mai Ly or something and they just made a vaguely American English name out of it. Nah. My mom just saw some actor’s last name one day while watching the credits after a movie and liked the sound of it. Her last name was Maitland, so my mom switched up the spelling, and I became forever rhymed with Kaitlyn. Woop. Oh well, at least it wasn’t just the typical Asian naming practice of changing a letter or two of a common American name for kicks (i.e. Milanie/Melanie, Patrizha/Patricia, Vincente/Vincent, Vivien/Vivian, etc.), though my name definitely suggests that. Disclaimer: Again, I’m not saying names like these or this naming practice is bad or weird, I just like that there’s at least an inkling of a story behind my name.

My brothers’ names also start with “M.” Together we are MP3. How cute right? They were almost named Mathias and Maximilian, so we all could have suffered from Unique Name Syndrome (UNS) (uns…uns…uns…) together. I still would have been the only one with a “made up” name though. Thanks, Mom. Oh, and Mom? I hope you know that almost everyone I’ve met has complimented your naming skills.


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