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August 28, 2021

Here's why the true pronunciation of your name matters.

Saif Cheval
Saif Cheval
Marketing Lead
min read

Whether you're 5, 15, or 50 years old, the desire to belong is powerful. It's natural for people to want to fit into their society. With our increasingly globalized society and the growing division within it, belonging becomes a more complex notion. How do you balance an identity within a collective? There are many factors that affect how included a person feels. But some aren't as flexible as others, which is especially the case with names.

young child at school with diverse identity
Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash.

It Starts At School

Many kids from diverse backgrounds find their names are different in school and at home. For young children, having a foreign-sounding name can be extremely difficult to deal with. Taimoor might go as Timmy in class, but his parents will always call him Taimoor. It's admittedly a small thing, but for first-generation immigrants, it can be a point of contention as they wrestle with their dual identities. Timmy at school feels pressured towards different values than Taimoor at home because fitting in pressured him to alter his identity. This can lead to deeper divides between his home and school lives, leading to a fractured sense of self, and, more drastically, impaired performance in school.Of course, some kids can weather the storm. But you cannot blame a child for not handling this issue themselves. To be frank, children will make fun of any name they can, and not every child will come into school with impenetrable self-esteem. Had Taimoor's teacher had access to resources such as NameShouts, perhaps he would feel more at ease in school, and could develop confidence and pride in both himself and his heritage. It's important to prioritize the development of our youngest: we can't lose kids to alienation and demotivation so early.

Photo by Billy Chester on Unsplash.

It Grows Over Time

Some children may refuse to change their name. As we get older, we realize the importance of such things and hang on to the facets of our identity that make us who we are. But teasing is a relentless force, and kids can feel excluded from their community by the very thing that makes them who they are. It's important for schools to work towards inclusion within the community, and working to make sure students feel like the institution cares about them can lead to future success and a healthier environment.Instead of allowing kids to feel alienated and thus watching their performance suffer, we should use everything we have to help kids ease through this trying time. By offering them this kind of support, schools can help foster a community where difference is accepted, not mocked. You've got to admit, it would be nice not to have a piece of your identity turned into a pun involving feces, trash, or swear words.

Taking Your Identity To Work

As we transition into adulthood, the professional world will often try to mold us to its standards. Employees at call centers or other client-side operations have noted a pattern in requests for name changes. But for Saket, a global sales expert, changing his name was never an option. When he started out, a few higher-ups suggested he should consider using an "easier" name. Saket refused and found success in sticking to his roots. Now, he'll never forget making the choice to keep true to himself.It's stories like Saket's that motivate us to keep working towards our goal. Having the confidence to remain true to your identity gives you an edge over others who might not be sure of where they're at. Sometimes, something as small as the name you've known your whole life is enough to achieve that confidence. Saket would say that his name is a part of who he is. We want our world to reach a point where our diverse identities are no longer burdens to bear.

connecting as a global society
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Adjusting to the growing diversity of our local spheres will be difficult. We've got a lot to learn: how to best treat each other, how to hold on to identity as we enter collectives, and how to interact with people who may have never met someone like us. Often, your name is the first thing someone will learn about you. It's part of their memory of you. And it's part of your own concept of self. Whether you're a student or a professional, your name matters. That's why we at NameShouts want people to treat each other's names with respect. Because your name is a part of who you are.

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