My parents named me Kelly Laurel Van Woerkom. At the time, they thought they were being original. They didn’t realize that Kelly would be the 5th most common girl’s name in America the year I was born. At least my last name was unique, although perhaps too much so. It’s one of those you have to spell every time, and even then most people don’t get it right and definitely can’t pronounce it. I don’t know why, but I’ve never particularly loved my first name. As a kid I wanted to be “Toni” or something else slightly more androgynous. I tried shortening my name to “Lee” but never really liked that either. In middle school, I decided I would be cooler if my name was at least spelled differently, so I changed the spelling to “Kely”. There, I was finally unique! I wasn’t Kelly or Kelli or Kelley, I was Kely! When I started applying to colleges though, I changed it back to Kelly, so I wouldn’t have to explain why I spelled it differently from all my official documents.

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