There is so much history and emotion behind my name. As a young girl I hated it. I wanted a "normal" name like Samantha; I wanted to be called "Sam" for short. I didn't appreciate that my name was different. To me it was just foreign, weird...and it was blatant to me that it was unfamiliar to the general public. "Uhm...NAN-DEE?" Every first day of school was filled with the same misspoken name. I don't hold it against anyone, it's an odd name. Secretly, for years I rolled my eyes when people would respond "What a beautiful name!" Yeah right. You're just trying to be nice because you have never heard it before and don't know what else to say.
For the majority of my life I have let people mispronounce my name without correcting them.
and when I would try to give them my nickname "Nani" I'd still get
"...it's Nina, right?"
I didn't fuss, didn't flinch, didn't correct. I simply answered and carried on. I didn't do so begrudgingly. I just didn't bother to try.
My parents however, were very good at correcting everyone. They ensured that people pronounced my name correctly and asked me why I didn't do the same. I didn't correct people because it didn't matter to me. It was not worth the back and forth of "wait, what?" and having to pronounce it at least three more times before they sorta got it, but most importantly it didn't matter to me because I was not who my name said I should be. Nandi is Zulu for "Woman of high self-esteem". I was in the 4th grade when I first really heard my mom say what my name meant. "Self-esteem? Like steam? Like you get angry and steam comes out of you ears?" I will never forget when my childhood best friend made those remarks. I had NO IDEA what the term "self-esteem" meant. Furthermore, I have a high amount of it?! Of course, my mother explained to me what it meant. Regardless, it did not make bearing my name any easier.
It has taken me years upon years to grow into my name. To be a woman who enunciates her name when people ask. A few weeks ago I told someone the meaning of my name to which they responded "Are you? [a woman of high self-esteem]". I smiled...and said "Yes. It's taken some time but yes I am." No one could have ever done that for me, I have had to work hard for years to build myself up, to understand that every individual is sincerely a gift-and that includes myself too. To realize that God himself made me the way I am and to be proud of that.
Own your brand.
Whether your name is indeed Samantha...whether its Charley or Norah or something that the majority of the public has a hard time pronouncing. Own it. It is so much easier said than done but it is worth working on and working towards if you don't feel that you are already there. Need some help getting there? Ask the people you love the most what they think your strengths are. It is incredibly easy to forget those things and moms/grandfathers/best friends are especially good at remembering. Attack your weaknesses! While trying to figure out how to be that "Woman of high self-esteem" my parents claimed I would/should be I contemplated what that meant to me. What does being confident about myself mean? For me it meant being a woman who my children could one day be proud of. I work with kids, so putting it in this context proved to be profound. As I thought about it (and this is years of thought) the meaning of my name developed. To this day is means being a strong, sincere, kind, hard-working woman who understands what a gift her genes are.
Everyone is coded differently, beautifully and uniquely. If you don't know what your personal brand is, work on it. Define who you are, how you want to to carry yourself and why you deserve as much respect as you give to others. You are more than worth it.