Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What's In a Name?

My whole life, I have had identity issues. Not in the way you'd think, but simply in the fact that no one can pronounce my name properly.
NOTE: The correct pronunciation is Eh-Len-Ah
But I get everything but my actual name. Every time I've started a new class, or met someone new, or had my name read out for sporting events, It's a different variation of my name. The most common are; Ah-Lan-Ah, El-Ain-Ah, and El-Enn-Ah. Then there are the ghastly such as El-Lean-Ah, Mel-Enn-Ah, and Elijah which really make me question the literacy of my fellow human beings. It's a pain, teaching people to say my name, but it must be done. In most cases, in the instances of the teachers who say my name a different way each time they call me, I generally give up and teach them one of the common, acceptable pronunciations. Apparently they're easier to say.
Of all the difficulties with my name, I consider myself to be accustomed to the butchering of my name. To be honest, it's mostly other people who do the correcting for me. However accustomed I may consider myself though, I was not prepared for college.
You see, my identity issues do not end at my un-pronouncable name, oh no. To make things a little more exciting, I happen to go by my middle name.
My real name is Nedra. Not Ned-raw, but Knee-dra. My parents gave me such a confusing name because they wanted to name me after both my grandmas, but call my Elena; which is my Grannie Young's Ukrainian name. However, they were torn, as Elena Nedra doesn't sound very nice. Determined to have a namesake for both their mothers, my parents simply switched the names around. And as pretty as Nedra Elena may sound, it is nothing short of a headache.
Until now, I have had minor, some may say amusing, encounters with this alternate identity. Whenever I go to the Alberta registry, they call me Ned-raw. ( and it sets my teeth on edge) either that or I sit there, oblivious, as they call me name over and over again until I remember, "Oh, that is my name isn't it?" And then there's my favourite game from Jr. High. As people go around a circle, saying their middle names, I would always say;
"Elena is my middle name."
"Oh, so you don't have one?"
"Yes I do. It's Elena."
"I don't get it."
"What's not to get?"
"How can Elena be your middle name?"
"Easy. My parents were holding me as a baby and they decided that Elena was a good middle name."
"But, but....." (Flounders for a few minutes before I take mercy on them)
Amusing, to be sure. Unfortunetely, people get smarter in high school, and my fun is spoiled. Then, I went to college.
There is the whole question of legal names in college. My legal name is, after all, Nedra. So, on every letter I got from any university, was addressed to Nedra Redd. Which is my Grandma, not me. I shrugged it off, anything I get from the government is always Nedra. Then, I went to my interview at Mount Royal, and of course, they called my Nedra. Already in a stressful situation, I shrugged it off. I can be Nedra for a day.
And then of course,I got accepted! So much for Nedra for a day. Now it is very confusing, because my teachers call me Nedra, and my classmates are calling me Nedra, and I am thinking to myself; "Who is this Nedra girl? What happened to Elena" She was so awesome."
They say when you start something new, you can be whoever you want to be, even a different person. I am. Even on paper.


smiley said...

Holy cow!! Everyone is calling you Nedra? Wouldn't you correct the professors? Then it wouldn't happen?

Janine said...

Sometimes it's just fun to have a secret identity, though. Mine is "LOUISE! Defender of econ marks and brown-noser to profs!" whereas in real life, I am known by my mild-mannered alter ego of Janine.

somebody said...