“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”
For my entire life, I have been called Ying Xuan. Sure as a baby, my parents called me XuanXuan or my friends (only the best ones) would call me Xuanny or YX- that was completely fine. I mean that is my first name, so why wouldn’t people call me that? There is one simple reason: anybody who is not Asian (and even sometimes Asians have problems pronouncing it) cannot pronounce Xuan. Even when I say it very clearly the first time, the second time AND the third time they ask me. But up until June 2013, I was Ying Xuan to everyone around me and everyone I knew. People always ask me “do you have an English name?”- always, and it gets tiring. Why am I obliged to have an English name just because all other Chinese people decided to have an English name to make things easier? Whose life does it make easier if I get a boring, common English name? Mine or theirs? Exactly.
But when I came to Seychelles, I did not even bother introducing myself as Ying Xuan. Sure, I tried a few times, but nobody could get it. So Ying was much easier. It was easier for everybody else, but hard for me to accept. The realization did not hit me until one and a half months into my internship. I am known as Ying to everyone, even my name tag says Ying. But whenever I associate myself with that name, I just feel numb. It’s like the balance is off in my life.
The reason is because Ying Xuan is a name that needs to be said together. When my dad named me, he wanted my sister and I to both have balance in my life. So in my case, Ying means bright and intelligent, while Xuan means dark and mysterious (like the Yin and Yang). That’s why, when said together, my name sounds so tasty (to the Chinese at least- many of the guests who ask how to write it say that it’s a beautiful name). But in Seychelles, I feel like I’ve lost my identity. When my colleagues call me Ying, I just feel numb. My sister’s first name also has the word Ying in it, which is what makes things even worst. I don’t even think she liked it when people called her Ying. I’ve just never had to share a name with anybody before, and I don’t think my sister had to either; so when we are called Ying, we both don’t like it. Unfortunately, I am used to being called Ying now. I even answer the phone with “Good morning, this is Ying”, and Ying Xuan just sounds strange. It’s kinda scary how easily I can adapt to this situation, with a new name and everything. But it’s okay, I know I’m still me.
I cannot wait to leave next friday (10 more days!!) and be back to my old life. My life with my real friends and family who will call me by my actual name. And in the future, I will not make it easy on anyone. To the world, I will always be Ying Xuan.