What's In A Name?

August 28, 2011
"What's in a name?" For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to answer this question. It has taken me about fifteen and a half years, but I have finally discovered the answer: identity and self-confidence. The pondering began in Kindergarten, where I was the only Lida in the class, surrounded by a sea of Emily's, Katie's and Sarah's. Almost everyone, teachers and students alike, stumbled over my name. I was called Lie-uh, Lid-uh, and Ida. "It's Leeee-da" I'd find myself saying several times a day, growing frustrated. At home, where my family and I spoke Ukrainian, my name flowed like silk, entwining perfectly into our language. "You have a weird name", fellow kindergartenres would comment, "why did you parents name you that?" I brought these questions home with me. "Mama, why don't I have a normal name?" "You have a beautiful Ukrainian that I have always loved". I brushed off my mother's words. As I grew up. my self-consciousness about my name multiplied. I became accustomed to loathing my name. I dreaded roll calls, and resented all of the misspelllings, mispronounciations, and stupid jokes (I used to drink Lida's of soda back in the day, hahaha..."). When middle school began, the typical preteen issues of fitting in and being popular brought my hyper awareness to an all-time high. I came up with a perfect solution, something that I had always longed for: a new name, Lydia. That way, when anyone struggled with my name, I would simply say, "it's Lydia", a perfectly normal, some what common, and easy-to-say-and-spell name. My new name made me feel secure and confident. But deep down, I felt guilty, because I knew I had insulted my parents when I demand that everyone at my new school call me Lydia. For three years, I was Lydia, who struggled with peer pressure,bullying, and finding herself. The moral "Lydia vs. Lida" war amplified as I grew older. I was surprised to learn that not everyone hated my name as much as I did."Lida-what a beautiful name," a teacher once exclaimed, "why would you want to change that?" I met others with ethnic names, who were constantly being misspelled and mispronounced like mine. These experienced caused little seeds of doubt and reconsideration to germinate deep inside me. Three years later, at the beginning of high school, I sought the opportunity to change my name again. But this time, I was going back to my real name, Lida. I am Lida-a young woman who is passionate about horses, literature,kindness, organization, and the Canadian Wilderness.Accepting my name has opened the gate to over-all self-acceptance. I have learned to cherish my name and all that it symbolizes: my language, my heritage, and the love of my parents. Fighting-and winning the battle over insecurity over my name has given me the courage to overcome other insecurities. I know that I have the confidence for the next chapter of my story: going to college. Sometimes I look back at what I know fondly call the "Lydia Days" and smile-because that girl seems completely different from the person that I am today. However, "Lydia" remains an intrinsic part of me because she taught me many valuable lessons-the beauty of ethnic and unique names, and most importantly, how NOT to let people have a negative influence over you, or make you feel bad about yourself. For that, I am ever grateful to her.





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