Every time I give my name I feel apologetic that it’s so long and awkward. I’m conscious that no one can ever spell either my first name and/or my surname. “It’s Siobhan, yes it’s Irish, S-i-o-b… Yeah, the ‘bh’ is a ‘v’ in Irish… Then it’s Kangataran, yeah that’s K-a-n….” And so on.
Growing up in Ireland, my first name was usually pretty straightforward, although I’d end up with errant ‘i’ or an extra ‘h’ every now and then, but people would just stop dead when they saw my surname, and wouldn’t even hazard a guess! Too long, too complicated, not worth the embarrassment. We might not pronounce it the right way but we say it phonetically – Kanga-ta-ran. I’ve had many many versions of spelling and pronunciation both names, (usually involving a Starbucks barista ).
So my name is different. So what. Why do I feel like I have to apologise every time I say it? What impression does that give? In meetings, networking events, or visiting new offices, I hear confident people owning their (“normal”) more easily understandable names, and I hear myself asking for permission to be there. Apologising for existing.
Even in setting up this blog I didn’t want it to be about me. I wanted it to be somewhere for women to be able to have access to practical information, and connect with other women to discuss anything relating to work. But if the blog is about me, to begin with at least, then I need to take more ownership of this, and stop hiding and apologising for existing.
So. Hi, My name is Siobhan Kangataran. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?