Got a message from a young reader who felt shame over her name because people could not pronounce it or would not make the effort to, thus making her nervous over introductions. She was especially worried about not being able to connect with others as a freshman in college.
DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF YOUR NAME! If people can’t make the effort to pronounce it right, how it is your fault? I’m YAGAZIE and I’m proud of my name. Honestly in college, I used to have people call me Frankie (short for my middle name, Francisca), but I quickly stopped that. No one is going to not talk you just because of your name, don’t be silly dear!! And if they do, no big loss. Trust me.
When I introduce myself to people, I look them straight in the eyes and with a firm handshake, I say my name. THE PEOPLE WORTH KNOWING are the ones that either get it or if they don’t, they ask, “Wait, how do you pronounce that?” Then I say my name slowly and have them repeat it. The ones probably not worth knowing are those who give that look which means that they didn’t get the pronunciation of your name, but they keep quiet. Having a shorter version of your name is really up to you. A lot of people just call me Yaga, but they MADE THE EFFORT TO SAY MY FULL NAME FIRST. And when people ask me what I prefer to go by, I say, “Yagazie”
It’s corny, but give honor to your name. Have people say it. NOBODY is not going to deny their friendship to you just because of your name! Our names in our languages is a mark of who we are and where we come from and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel anything but positive about it. - Yagazie