Pride-fueled forgetfulness

“I’m bad with names.”

It’s often one of the first things I say after meeting someone new; establishing my excuse to forget their name before we meet again, and likely, before the current conversation is even over.

I’m bad with names. It’s true. Always have been.

I generally forget a person’s name not long after hearing it.

I often meet people who say the same thing, and it’s like a shared camaraderie — an agreement even.  “I’ll forget your name, you’ll forget mine too, so no hard feelings either way.

Just having parked my car for a business meeting, it occurred to me, I have no idea the name of the man I’m meeting with. I pondered the possibility of simply going in there, introducing myself (although he is expecting me and likely remembers my name) with the hope that he’ll reciprocate and offer his. But that seemed bad form, so I quickly scanned my calendar on the off chance that I wrote his name down.  I did indeed, and embarrassment averted – this time.

Why is it that I am so bad at names, and why do I feel so justified in that. I remember all sorts of random information that is useless and pointless?  I remember the jersey numbers of my favorite soccer players growing up.  Mia-Julie-Carla was how I remembered my locker combination all through middle school and high school (bonus points if you can tell me my combo!!)

I remember random stats and random facts, yet I seem unable to remember the NAME of a person.

Does this reflect priorities? That I do not prioritize people?  Could be.  I’m very much a task oriented person over people oriented.

But in pondering this question after my near miss at last week’s business meeting, I think I found a different answer.


That would not have been my first guess, but it is my current conclusion.  Pride keeps me from remembering names better.

How is that possible, you wonder?

When I meet someone new I am so concerned with appearing to have it all together and appearing to have a great memory, that I don’t dare repeat their name as a tactic to remember it because then it looks like I can’t remember things quickly.  (Which, clearly I can’t, but I don’t want them knowing that).  I don’t want to appear anything less than superhuman.

Have you ever met the person who, after hearing your name, will literally repeat your name out loud. “Melissa, great to meet you.”  And then a few moments later when responding to a comment you make they use your name a again in their answer.  And maybe shortly before parting ways they will once again say your name, “It was great to meet you, Melissa. Look forward to seeing you again at the next event.”

In less than 5 minutes such people are capable of repeating my name upwards of 5 times.  And you know what, next time we meet, they generally don’t need to be reminded of my name, they remember it!

Do I find them strange? Well, maybe a little.  But mostly I admire them. Mostly I’m impressed by their purposefulness to remember my name. Mostly I feel valued because they have taken the time to put my name into memory.

Why don’t I do the same?

Because in the process of putting a name into memory I have to say and do things that prove that I do not have an instantaneous memory, and the lie of pride tells me that the other person will think less of me.

Pride keeps me from better remembering people’s names — I wonder what else it keeps me from doing.

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