That’s my name. The correct way to say my name. For 29 years I’ve lived with it. I’ve always thought it was pretty and suited me well. I also thought, that it wasn’t a particularly hard name to pronounce. To my surprise, teachers butchered it the first day of school (only a few in my lifetime have gotten it right). Even my own cousin was miss-pronouncing it! I was relaxed and laid back about people’s mistakes, casually letting them call me whatever they wanted.
Yes I’d heard it all and being young, I’d laugh and correct them, not caring if they remembered my name or not. Usually they didn’t, they’d call me whatever name they’d come up with in their head.
It wasn’t until recently in my older years, when I started my new job, that the mispronunciation of my name started to bother me. I’d told people my name when I met them and I corrected them, yet they still didn’t take the time to say it right. I started to get really irritated. When someone would say it wrong, I’d immediately correct them and I didn’t care how many times I had to do so.
Was it pretentious and rude? I asked myself that one day. I quickly let that thought fly out of the window. How could it be when my parents gave me this name? My wonderful parents who I cherish and honor named me something beautiful.
When I was in college, I used to wonder was it too – ethnic. Yes, that ignorance crossed my mind. Not that I have a burning desire to fit in with white people or my white co-workers but I wanted something more traditional sounding at times.
When someone messes up your name, it is a sign of disrespect. My favorite excuse of people’s was, “Oh, I’m not good with names!”. That excuse just shows me how careless people are and that they have no desire to even learn anything about them. People’s word choices hold weight and power so when someone takes the time to say my name correctly, I feel like they honor me.
I can’t help but laugh thinking back to the times I let people butcher my name for the sake of wanting to fit in. I wanted to fit in with everyone else. But I’m not everyone else. I’m Tyiana. My name is Tyiana and it is important to me. It is important that you say it correctly.