So…what’s your actual name?

Depending on when you met me you either know me as “Ana” or as “Viry.” My full name is Viridiana, and ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with this name. 

When I was in kindergarten I didn’t like my name because it was “too long” and teachers wouldn’t let me just write “Viry” on my assignments. Then as I got older I disliked my name because no one could pronounce it. Whenever a new teacher stopped during roll call I knew it was my name because unless they were Hispanic/Latinx they had no idea where to begin. Some teachers braved the pronunciation and others just asked, “Last name Medina?” 

Everywhere I’ve gone my name has been some sort of roadblock. From getting the right coffee order to getting work emails addressing me as Medina because “Viridiana” is so complex it must obviously be the last name. That’s why in my junior year of high school I decided to go by “Ana.” No one could screw that up, right? I was adamant about the one “n” because “Ana” was the ending of “Viridiana.” And that’s when something magical happened. People started asking me, “Do you want to be called Anna or Ana?” 

I say it’s magical because when I was going by “Viry,” no one really cared if they were pronouncing it correctly (which often times they were not). And when folks saw “Viridiana” they always asked if I went by another name. My true name was “too complex,” “too different” and had to be changed. However, “Ana” was something folks could work with. 

I loved life as “Ana.” Everything was 100x easier. My coffee order was so easy to get and no one hesitated to call out my name. And then about 7 years after my life as “Ana” had begun I realized my big mistake. 

I had allowed part of my identity to be taken away in order to make others (mostly white folks) comfortable with who I was as a person. Rather than embracing my name, my identity, and my culture, I had pushed away from it in order to belong. So, I went back to “Viry.”

My name is part of what makes me Latina and I am proud of my background. There is 0 reason to shy away from it and I don’t want other Viridianas to feel like they have to change their name too. Being young and frustrated I made a change that I thought was meaningless, but my name is me and I should not change who I am for others. 

However, “Viridiana” will always be reserved for my parents and those occasional moments I still get in trouble (: 

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