THE BLOG
04/25/2013 04:20 pm ET

What's in a Name: A Case of Mistaken Identity

My name is very similar to that of a certain writer of erotic literature. We do not know each other, but Google likes to remind me of her existence every time I search for myself.

Perhaps it is narcissistic for me to be Googling myself at all -- even if I suspect everyone else does it too -- yet the fact remains that my identity is inextricably linked to this other Shara. Anyone trying to find me might think that I have begun writing racy novels in my spare time, although judging from the number of Fifty Shades of Grey-enthusiast types that have contacted me, the more likely scenario is that other Shara's readers think she has transformed into a whiny recent graduate who makes a lot of soup.

I view the Internet correspondence I have accidentally intercepted with a degree of amusement, but my feelings toward my similarly named counterpart could be described as ambivalent as best. The uncommonness of Shara has long been a source of pride for me, a sort of vindication for my third grade-self, who could never buy a keychain with her name on it at the museum gift shop. While I confuse whether people are talking about the Destiny's Child member or the Dawson's Creek actress, I used to think that I was immune to mistaken identity by virtue of a name atypical to most cultures.

But now Google has alerted me that my uniqueness has been compromised -- I did not mean Shara Azod, but thank you, Google, for both rubbing salt into the wound and making it difficult for me to send emails with your new "Compose" function -- I am reminded of yet another way in which I am completely unoriginal. It seems that the further I am progressing in life, the more cognizant I am becoming of my own lack of exceptionality. When I once thought I had invented the phrase "sticky paws" to describe honey or jam on one's fingers, I now discover it is a brand of furniture scratching deterrent for cats.

Perhaps recognizing that one is not that special, unlike what one's kindergarten teacher told him or her, increases the ability to relate to others. I do not fixate on the casualties of age for the majority of my waking hours, but sometimes I reflect that there are more songs and books that capture my exact mood or circumstance. This could be a function of greater exposure and accessibility due to technology, but the possibility remains that we are all living parallel life trajectories. Maybe we are just at different points along them, like in parametric curves.

My similarly named counterpart and I probably have more in common than just our names. The silver lining, of course, is that the only person who probably ever conducts an Internet search for me specifically is my mom. I am pretty sure she has at least a general sense of who I am -- at the very least, I am sure she knows I haven't been writing erotica.