"Growing up, like most children of immigrants, I could tell when a teacher got to my name because there would be a long pause and then a palpable nervousness before a muttering of words." (@browngirltherapy)
All throughout school and even in college, my shoulders would raise up towards my neck with this cringing feeling the first day of school or new semester. How sad is it that after 34 years I still get this feeling when I meet someone new or talk to someone on the phone for the first time?!
My full name is Satkiran and for as long as I can remember, my nickname has been Kiran. My full name means seven rays of sunshine. I love my full name, but because of the difficult pronunciation, no one has ever called me that. Somehow in school my name became Karen because no one could pronounce even my nickname. My maiden name is Phoul. This was the worst. It's pronounced like a swimming pool. I got fool, foul, ghoul, and they all came with little snickers from both kids and adults.
When I was in college I remember working on a group project. One of the guys pronounced my name wrong, so I corrected him. This was one of the first times in college that I had the courage to do this. I became friends with someone else in the group. Later they told me they thought when I made the correction of my name I was being bitchy. From then I would always question myself if I should correct someone.
Hasan Minhaj was on a day time talk show and had to correct the host on the pronunciation of his name. "If people can say Timothee Chalamet's name, we can do this."
My name, Sarina, is not hard to say, but it gets confused with Sabrina ALL the time... I have also always been so shy to correct people. The spelling of my name is also unique, which can be tricky too...
My maiden name (Dahukey) is very intimidating to people because it's long but is sounds exactly how it is spelled where my married name (Reuschle) is just hard to pronounce all around!
I grew up in a community where people knew my name pretty well but once I hit college and beyond, it was always a challenge. My brother's name, Aytan, was even more difficult to pronounce that at his college graduation, they didn't even bother to try our last name...
It is strange how we try to make others more comfortable by not correcting them or creating nicknames... I think nicknames can be very endearing as long as they come from a good place.
For me, it is all about learning and embracing each other's cultures along the way - I hope that now more than ever, we all try to understand where names come from and the beautiful stories that they often tell.
Kiran, you posts and stories are certainly a ray of sunshine. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post! I love the meaning of your name. I am glad you have grown to love and appreciate your full name. <3
I was born on St. Mary's (Christian Orthodox celebration) day on 8/20 and named after my oldest Aunt, who had the name Mary. She passed away in Armenia at a young age after finding out her sister's (my other Aunt) husband had passed. They apparently died very closely at the same time. I like to think I continue and honor her legacy, I was told she was known to be tough, a strong minded woman who touched many people's lives in her homeland of Armenia where she was born and raised. I always thought my name was generic but it is so special and meaningful to me now. Growing up I would always get teased of the old kid stories of "Mary had a little lamb, etc." Or people pronounce Mary as "Maria, Marie or Mariam." To this day, I love and appreciate my name more than ever and continue the legacy of my Aunt. There are many different variations of "Mary" in different cultures and countries. But they are all certainly mighty and strong women being named Mary! ♥️
Mary GI was born on St. Mary's (Christian Orthodox celebration) day on 8/20 and named after my oldest Aunt, who had the name Mary. She passed away in Armenia at a young age after finding out her sister's (my other Aunt) husband had passed. They apparently died very closely at the same time. I like to think I continue and honor her legacy, I was told she was known to be tough, a strong minded woman who touched many people's lives in her homeland of Armenia where she was born and raised. I always thought my name was generic but it is so special and meaningful to me now. Growing up I would always get teased of the old kid stories of "Mary had a little lamb, etc." Or people pronounce Mary as "Maria, Marie or Mariam." To this day, I love and appreciate my name more than ever and continue the legacy of my Aunt. There are many different variations of "Mary" in different cultures and countries. But they are all certainly mighty and strong women being named Mary! ♥️
This is so beautiful Mary!
I forgot to even tell you what my name means! My name Sarina comes from "Sarah" and "Rina" and means Little Princess. My parents wanted to do something unique but loved both of those names... my middle name, Esther, was my great grandmother's name. I always thought it was such a weird name when I was a kid with a weird spelling...but I love it now!
Thank you for sharing your story Kiran. I don't think you are wrong for correcting anyone on how to pronounce your name. My first name is Claire, spelled the French way as my mother would put it, last name is Colin. People would always mispronounce my name especially as a child when we had to go to the auditorium for awards. Of course, I always received one, and I despised it because of how they would say my first and last name. For my first name they would say, "Claireyyyy" or so. However, how they pronounced my last name would make anyone laugh at it. I pronounce Colin as "Collin." Others, however pronounce it as Colon. Definitely bothered be for a long time, but as I got older I learned how to read the expressions on my professors faces when they pronounce my first name right but my last name was a struggle. So I could abruptly say it so that they wouldn't mess it up. Another thing about my name was in terms of a racial issue, when people would call my name they didn't expect a very tan Mexican walking through the office doors waiting to receive her principles award of outstanding student. Now I have definitely come to love my name. My mother named me after Saint Claire, a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi. The name Claire means Clear and Bright.
I really appreciate this post... Growing up I remember experiencing a lot of shame around my name and it not being American enough. When you're young it's harder to find power in where we come from, but as I got older I got so much more rooted in everything I am, including my name. I would gladly call you Satkiran if that's what you prefer!! 🤗 I'm not sure why but a lot of times people get SO intimidated at the idea of pronouncing a name that's unfamiliar to them... Just sound it out; it's better to put in the effort than ask someone "can you please alter your identity so I'm not uncomfortable? Thanks." lol
Satkiran is such a beautiful name with even more beautiful meaning 💖
I can live and breathe everything about this post bc hello, my name is HeeKyeong Seo 😂
Here is a quick run down of my name being completely dismissed:
1) 3rd grade, I joined a summer camp in California (I'm originally from Seoul, Korea), barely spoke any English. teacher was taking an attendance, stopped at my name name, and insisted that I change my name to "Julie" for 2 months 🤯Yup, she called me Julie for the entire summer!
2) 7th grade, I enrolled at a junior boarding school in Massachusetts, told everyone that I was "Julie." After a few months, out of no where, I had the courage to ask the entire faculty and students to refer to me as my real name! I think that was one of the best things I did in my life 😊
3) Sophomore in college, a random elderly woman named Robin (I still remember her name 😂) asked me my name, after hearing it, she said "You Chinese ppl need to get American names to make it easier for us" I just smiled and walked away 🙃
4) Early 2020, I immediately respected and appreciated Teni so much bc as soon as we met, she tried to pronounce my name, asked if she was saying it right (she said it perfectly on the first go btw 😂) and has always referred to me as HeeKyeong! Thank you Teni, you have no idea what that meant to me! ❣️
Hello Satkiran, I love hearing personal stories. I too come from immigrant parents and it has always been important to pronounce other's names. I find it that by pronouncing names how they should be we keep the essence of it. It is also a way of respecting our parents and ancestors who we were likely named after.