I Apologized to the Man with the Same Name as Me for Ruining His Life

Tim Denning

People with your exact name are more like you than you think.


Photo via unsplash

There are people in the world who have the same name as you.

Have you ever considered reaching out to them to see what you might learn? Well, a few years ago I did.

I made friends with all the people on Facebook who shared my exact name. There are posts on my Facebook that have nothing but people who have the same name as me leaving comments. People make jokes about it all the time.

I have guilt-tripped these people who share the same name as me into liking my posts because, perhaps, they believe *not* doing so is trashing their own name.

Then I did the same on LinkedIn. Admittedly, I connected with the people on LinkedIn who shared my name because I selfishly believed they might be able to help me advance my career many years ago. I wanted to guilt those who shared my name into helping me when they normally wouldn’t.


I feel guilty for what I have done to people who have the same name as me. The other day I reached out to a guy on LinkedIn who shares my name. I apologized to him for ruining his life with my potty mouth. He laughed and brushed it off.

I will never know how badly I have harmed his reputation with my blogging. I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does. It’s not hard to imagine a real-life job interview with a person who shares my name.

Interviewer: it says here you wake up at 4 am, drink green smoothies, and once had a boss who was a member of the stripy pants club. Can you explain?

Denning Clone: I’m not that person. It’s this crazy guy from Australia.

Interviewer: *sighs in disbelief*

You’re always making an impact with your name — even if it’s a negative one.

Your name counts for something. Your name can be a label people can rely on. Your name can also stand for arrogance or ignorance.

I sometimes wonder what I have done to my own name. Have I destroyed it? Have I done something worthy with my name? It’s hard to know. You hear what you want to hear. You want to believe you’re doing something noble with your life, but are you? I question what my name stands for a lot.

Your name can mean something if you want it to. Your name can be a symbol for hope, or it can be an inconspicuous name that looks after a family in a small country town nobody has ever heard of. I fantasize about disconnecting the internet and escaping to the country a lot.

Fame and attention feel like a nightmare to me.

Have a conversation with yourself.

When I talk with people, regularly, who have the same name as me, it’s like I’m having a conversation with myself.

Maybe that’s why I do it. Maybe it’s not me being vain. I secretly want the people who share my name to do well in life. I like to check-in. Whenever I talk to a person who shares my name I’m deeply honest.

The fact their name is the same as mine onscreen tricks my brain into acting differently.

Your brain is taught over many years to listen out for your name. Your brain is trying to protect you and it uses your name as a red notification.

It’s weird to move through time and space with people who share your name. How similar are you really to people who share your name?

You could be taking your name too seriously, too.

The opposite is true. Maybe your name doesn’t matter as much as you think.

The personal branding culture has forced us to have a panic attack when our name is used. We believe one mistake with our name attached to it could ruin everything we’ve built.

In reality, people are so occupied with surviving life that they don’t care too much for your name. They’re preoccupied with their own.

Maybe this whole friending people with the same name as me is an example of me taking everything too seriously. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Poking fun at yourself is refreshing.

Making fun of yourself is a reminder to enjoy life because it will be over faster than you think. Lying down in the hospital operating theatre this week reminded me of that.

The Ultimate Realization

Humans are all similar.

This is a bizarre lesson. Your name is chosen at birth without considering others (outside of your family) who may have it.

I thought the conversations I was having with people who had the same name as me were radically different. (Like a label for a human could really change a conversation that much.)

In the end they had hopes and dreams. They enjoyed talking. They liked learning from someone on the other side of the world. Our stories resonated with each other — not because we had the same name — but because we were both sharing the ultimate challenges of the human experience.

They had career dreams and so did I. They had a family and so did I. They needed to earn a living and so did I. Our problems were all the same. Sharing the same name didn’t make us any similar.


Making friends with people who have the same name as you is an interesting experiment. The quickest way I’ve learned to make a new friend is to form relationships with people who share my name. I don’t do it anymore, but the impacts of being surrounded by a hundred Tim Dennings will be felt for the rest of my life. I have a duty to be kind to their name.

Sharing your name with others helps you stay responsible.

The next time I reach for a swear word I’m going to think about the people who could be affected by it. What can people who share your name teach you? Find out.

You can learn from anybody — even people who have your name.

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Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship www.timdenning.com


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