“When I looked around, all I ever found is people who forget your name”
I believe in learning names. I don’t believe there is a worse feeling than not being remembered. I believe that remembrance of a person has more value than remembering any parts of speech, algebra formulas or history dates. I understand that you cannot possibly remember every single person you meet, but what I believe to be true is that there is nothing worse than remembering someone who does not remember you.
I have never thought of myself as a memorable person. For my entire life I thought I had pretty typical features, a normal nose, normal mouth, normal eyes. My height was normal, my weight was normal. I thought I looked like everyone else. I didn’t particularly expect people to recognize me, or remember me. However, I have always tended to remember things about other people. I remember birthdays, I remember favorite colors, favorite foods, anniversaries. For some reason, I’ve always thought these were important things to remember. It must be because of this value that I hate so much that others cannot remember these same things about me. I was with my best friend one day and we were talking about birthdays. I decided to quiz her and said, “when is my birthday?” She said,”……Um………….November twenty-first? Or…. um… November nineteenth?…Um.. my brother’s is the twenty-fifth I think….” I was shocked. I was so shocked that I honestly felt like crying, but it would look silly to cry over such a thing in front of her. I said, “It’s November twenty-second. I can’t believe you didn’t remember that It’s a palindrome ” I had always thought my birthday was pretty damn special. It is 11/22/88. In math class in second grade when we learned about palindromes, I realized this special fact about myself, and from then on, I never thought it was forgettable. But there was my best friend, and she didn’t remember. “I don’t remember anyone’s birthday, Manda,” she said. I really didn’t care about this personality flaw of hers. I really didn’t think it mattered. I just believed that my best friend should know my special birthday. I left that conversation feeling terribly mediocre. Weeks, perhaps even months later, I was perusing the grocery store with my mother and sister when I spotted my math teacher from sixth grade with her husband. I didn’t wave because I figured, ‘no way will she recognize me, or remember me for that matter.’ We rounded another corner and ran into her again. She looked directly into my eyes and said “Hey Amanda This is so funny, I can’t believe I ran into you How is highschool going?” I said it was going well, and that everything was going well. I was so stunned that she remembered me that I didn’t really know what else to say. As we walked out of the store, the moon hung in the dusky sky, cradling a star. Mrs. Segal pointed to it and exclaimed how beautiful it was. I commented back on how it looked like the Muslim flag. My mother agreed with me and we went our separate ways. I told my mother and sister how shocked I was that Mrs. Segal had remembered my name. I really felt special. I had had her over four years before, for one subject, and she remembered me.
There are too many people who think that names aren’t a big deal. A name is who you are, whether you want it to be or not. To forget a name is to forget a person, to be forgotten is the lowest feeling one can feel. Too many times have I seen teachers call on “the girl in the back” after a month of classes. Too many times have I seen old “friends” reconcile, one with a book full of memories, one with an awkward smile because of the lack thereof. To be forgotten is to be inadequate, to be worthless. I believe that no one should feel such feelings. I believe that silly personality trivia matters. I believe that these things make up a person. I believe that if nothing else, you should remember names.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.