My full name is Lily Myunghi M. When my parents gave me this name, they created an important part of my identity that will be part of me forever. Since I was young, I've loved hearing my mom tell the fascinating story of my name.
My first name, Lily, was inspired by a story my mom heard a long time ago. There were some people who wanted to get rid of their tiger lilies, so they dug a deep, deep hole and threw the tiger lily plants in. For years, they felt they had succeeded in killing the lilies. But one spring, strong, green stocks rose to the surface. My mom named me Lily because she hoped for a beautiful daughter, who would also be strong and resilient, just like those fiery, orange blossomed lily plants.
My middle name is Myunghi. My mom, who is of Korean heritage, wanted to honor our Asian roots, so she consulted with an uncle in Korea to find a name with a meaning she hoped would resonate within me, her daughter. The middle name they chose for me means “clear-eyed girl” in Korean. My parents chose it because they believe life is difficult, and they hoped being “clear-eyed” would help me find my way in the world.
In English, Myunghi loses its beautiful meaning.
It becomes the hesitation on people’s faces as they stumble over its mere two syllables.
It becomes the surprised expressions of classmates who have never heard a name anything like it before.
It becomes a blushing little girl, embarrassed by her own name, a name that her parents put some much thought into.
When I was younger, I hid my middle name, pretending it didn’t exist. No one, not even my best friend, knew that my middle name was Myunghi. Looking back, I pity the girl who was too ashamed to reveal her full name to anyone.
My grandparents were raised in Korea, where parents take great care choosing a name with a meaning that will help their child through life. My grandparents were born into the Japanese Occupation of Korea and were forced to speak Japanese. They were even assigned Japanese names, which stripped away their cultural identities bit by bit.
I’ve grown to love and appreciate my name, because it carries a special meaning. I no longer hide my name, but instead, proudly announce it, since my grandparents could not. I accept this special part of my identity that was chosen especially for me.
My full name is Lily Myunghi M. It paints a magnificent picture of unconditional love, hope, and heritage coming together to form a girl. And that girl,