what's in a name?

That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.

For a long time, I had trouble really taking this to heart.

My name was the first thing people noticed about me, the strangeness, how foreign it sounded. They couldn't figure out my gender based solely on it, and when teachers would take roll, frequently they'd call me by my last name.

It made me uncomfortable, to say the least. In middle school, I handed out little slips on the first day of school, saying, "Hello, my legal name is Zhiyi, but I go by Angelina. Thanks!"

I followed these with additional slips the next class, as a reminder: "In case you forgot, Zhiyi goes by Angelina". I was very thorough in making sure my classmates would never find out my Chinese name, because they would undoubtedly ask me about it.

I slipped up, and "Zucchini" became a popular nickname that year.

Wearing: J Crew striped silk tee (similar), Lush envelope soft pant (similar), Sam Edelman Felicia flats

Most people curiously ask how to pronounce it, and I simply tell them, "It's Angelina". I had this one teacher who would not let it go however, and interrogated me in front of the class. I was absolutely mortified, and I just wanted to sink into a puddle where no one would notice me.

It isn't that I'm ashamed of my heritage. It's just rare that anyone is able to pronounce it correctly, including other Asian people.

I was afraid, and sometimes still am, that what's on the surface will be the only thing people notice about me. I feel as though it will create a divide between myself and my peers, and emphasize the differences. Differences and diversity, of course, is a good thing, but it can also scare some people.

I'm someone who can't survive without friends, but simultaneously, it can be hard for me to initiate things.

Photography by Serina

It's all part of an ongoing struggle on my identity. I'm not a Chinese person from China, nor an American who grew up here. I'm Chinese-American. And I'm still figuring out what that means to me.

Do you have an "unusual" name? Have you ever felt like an outsider because of your heritage? How do you feel about your ethnicity?



In response to "Woes of Having an Unusual Name" by Noor Unnahar.


p.s. - I'm currently traveling for spring break, and will be back in mid April. See you then! (:

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