By Liya Davidov
Nation & World Editor
A name is sacred, a title that no one can take away. There will always be someone with the same name as you, but none of them could ever identify with it the same way. It took me years to understand that about my name, and honestly, it still takes a lot of self-reminders.
The main difference between my name and that of other Liya’s is the spelling. Any “normal” girl would have her name spelled L-E-A-H, sometimes without the “h,” sometimes with an “i.” But either way, “Leah” is not supposed to have a “y.”
My first name is not the issue, though, because my last name is even worse. Everyone knows how to pronounce “David,” which is great for them except for the fact that it has nothing to do with my name. I understand that names are difficult to pronounce, and with a Hebrew flare, it becomes even more difficult to say “Davidov” in English. It takes a while to teach the correct pronunciation of my last name, too, and sometimes, even after all of the meticulous lessons, people are still clueless. After a few times, it really should not be so difficult to pronounce “Da-veed-óv.”
Why do I respond, though, when the mispronunciations tip over to almost entirely unrelated to me? Is it because I have given up or simply lost interest in my own identity? Sometimes, it bothers me that I do respond to a name that is not mine and, even worse, it hurts that I now anticipate the mispronunciation. It has even come to the point where I introduce myself and “Liya Davidov” no longer sounds like a description of me.
What I have learned is that there is a part of me in each pronunciation. Sure, there mispronunciations that sometimes butcher the name with a sharp steak knife. But each version of my name is a version of me. I’ve come to like the different quirks that “David-off” has and the messed up sense of humor that “Lie-a” shares all too proudly.
My point is that behind every name, there is an individual — there’s you! Oh, look, there’s me, too! We all know what kind of person we want to be and there shouldn’t be a name standing in the way of us being exactly who we’re supposed to be. Accepting our true identities — the individual behind the name — may not come overnight, but is crucial in understanding ourselves.
It takes practice, but soon enough, you’re not just another face in the crowd walking down the main college path — you’re you and you’re glowing because of it. This is your opportunity to discover who you really are. You may not get it the first time — or the 50th time in my case — but when you do, you will finally be able to recognize the person in the mirror as more than just a reflection and feel proud of the individual you’ve become. Here’s to you!