No, I am not talking about changing my name after getting married. I am talking about changing or shortening my name to make it easier to pronounce for the American society. USA is a melting pot, a country of opportunity. My parents brought me to this country to have the opportunities I would never have where I used to live. I love the American culture and adapted well.
But I am who I am and that will not change. I will not change my last name. It is what it is. It looks weird. People can’t pronounce it. They mess it up. Often they just spell it out. At one point I was embarrassed of my last name and would introduce myself only using my first name. Then after working in corporate America, going to various meetings and seeing my managers introduce me to our clients using my first and last name, I thought—if they can pronounce it and introduce me with my first and last name, why shouldn’t I?
So next time I was at a meeting, or answered the phone, I introduced myself properly. “My name is Vera Babayeva.”
“What?” they say. Then I hear someone chuckling.
I ignore the chuckle and proceed to say my name again, with pride and power, “Babayeva, BABA like Baba Gump shrimp from Forrest Gump and then EVA like Eva Mendez.”
“Oh ok,” then they pronounce it. I hear no more chuckling.
Hey, they are not dumb; they get it. And I felt good. I was more confident and proud.
Then I saw Suzy Orman on TV and she was giving one of her inspiring speeches telling women to say their name with pride and power. Wow, I thought. She is right. All women must say their name with pride and power, no matter what it is. Once you say it with pride and power, others will too.
From today on, I promise myself not to be embarrassed of saying my first or last name.
Hi, my name is Vera Babayeva. What is your name?