"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Thursday, April 19, 2012

my name.

I've never really liked my name. I've never really felt comfortable with it. When I first started this blog, it never occurred to me to publish under my own name. Part of the decision to blog under a pseudonym was for privacy; another part was because I've always had a taste for the extravagant and the name Lady Renegade (now Lady Solitaire) is a reflection of the puffed-up self importance of a twelve year old. But it was mostly because I've never felt that my name is in sync with who I am and what I want to be.

It is not always easy growing up as an Asian, second-generation immigrant in Australia. I'm not very Asian in my thinking or sensibilities but I know I do not entirely fit in in Australia; I know I am not entirely welcome. I think that reflects in my name, and my discomfort with it.

My name is not a traditional, feminine name; at least to Western ears. Nobody has ever said that my name is 'pretty', 'sweet' or 'elegant' - it's normally described as 'interesting' or 'unique' or, by those who seem to lack tact, 'fucking weird'. I am so sick of having to say my name, repeat it five million times, spell it out again, and again, and again, and put up with all kinds of variations that seem to transcend ignorance.

I have always been good with names. I've never had any problem remembering how to spell or pronounce even the most unusual names. I've always found it strange that Australians seem incapable of wrapping their heads or tongues around anything more complicated than Ryan or Claire. I mean, English is the most complicated language in that we have so many rules, and so many ways to break these rules. But then again, Australian kids have never really boasted very impressive spelling skills.

Almost every Asian I know in Australia has a 'normal' name. Some of them have an Asian name for a middle name, or have a 'normal' nickname that everyone knows them as. Even my cousins in Singapore have English names; even my niece in Korea has an English name. I do not. I don't know whether to be proud or irritated.

When I was growing up, I had very Western ideals of marriage and babies instilled into my brain. Most people I know take it for granted they're going to name their own children. I certainly do, anyway.

My sister and I were named by my grandparents in Korea. It has never ceased to amaze me that my mother didn't give in to that girlish need to name your kid something deep and meaningful and personal, the name that you've scribbled and hidden in the same place where you've hidden that scribble of you as a Mrs. Our surname is a highly esteemed family in Korea which literally means 'hand' (more like authority). Our family is a family of generals, ministers, queens and concubines, and my name is similarly grand and austere - at least to me, when you think that the name 'Cameron' means 'wonky nose'. My name means 'intent to cultivate'. My grandfather loved it so much that I have it even though it's the 'wrong name' - don't ask.

In Korea, I finally get accepted as someone with a normal name. I love how my name just rolls of everyone's tongue. I love how they knew how to spell my name even before I did - in Korean, of course. I love how I can write my name and it just fits.

As I've gotten older I've reconciled myself with what I have been named. I used to think it didn't suit me, it didn't describe me, it didn't really represent me; but it does. It does, when I'm where I belong.

No comments: