Three syllables. Six letters. One name.
My resentment for being called Danica, had very little to no with the actual name itself and the way people treated it. I hated having to correct people to the way it was pronounced and then having them offer me the pronunciation of people with names similar in spelling and telling me that this how that person pronounces it. I resented my name because it didn’t look as nice as Ashley or Jasmine when scribbled down on a piece of paper. Even in cursive, it fell flat with no distinctive flair. It was the reason that I decided in the early days of fourth grade that if I was to become a writer, I would use an alias instead of my actual name.
Two syllables. Five letters. One name.
When I first discovered that my name wasn’t actually Danica, as per my birth certificate, I rejoiced. I was more than thrilled to do away with a name that had caused more discomfort for me than it should have. But somehow, Shana, wasn’t much better. There were still people that insisted on butchering my name, and even worse, determined to rearrange the spelling of my name to something more fitting of my race. The resentments I had developed for Danica, came rushing back in, each time I had to correct someone’s pronunciation of my name.
Two syllables. Six letters. One name.
When it came time to name my daughter, I had the hardest time settling on a name. I wanted to give her a name that was timeless. I wanted people to stop when they heard her name and comment on how pretty it was. I wanted her to revel in it. I wanted a name that was fitting of her personality. But most importantly, I wanted to give her a name that she wouldn’t run away from because of the way people may butcher it.
But that’s the thing about names. People will butcher them just because they can. And unless they have an appreciation for your name, they will keep butchering it out of it being an inconvenience for them to pronounce properly.
The first time someone commented on how pretty my name was, was the first time I began to appreciate the name my parents spent months over deciding upon for me. It was the first time I wanted to sign my name over and over again and the last time I stopped subjecting myself to having my name butchered and began eyeing everyone that pronounced it incorrectly and tried to excuse their failure in pronunciation with the fact that there are so many ways it could be pronounced, except the way I pronounced it.
The reservations I had in naming my daughter and giving her a name that she could appreciate, no longer exist. Perhaps it’s because my daughter is so excited about her name that she talks in third person from time to time. Maybe’s it because she is quick to correct anyone who dares to call her anything outside of the name I wrote down on her birth certificate. Whatever it is, I’m not fearful that she will spend years, in the manner I did, envious of the names I refused to give her. Nor am I scared that she will cower and accept the possible other pronunciations of her name as the correct way of saying it, and her pronunciation being nothing more than me being too lazy to say it properly.
But watching my daughter now and watching the way she let’s her name roll off her tongue and without apology, corrects anyone, even if they are complimenting her, by offering them her name instead leaves me in awe.
How many people can say that their name is not only the name their parents have chosen for them, but also the only adjective that can accurately describe them?
Well, my daughter can, and that’s all that really matters.