Your name is a large part of your identity. It's what people hear when you're first introduced and it stays with you for your whole life, unless you change it. Each name comes with different meanings and connotations and people can form preconceived notions based on someone's name. This is a story about my name: Anna Bella Masciandaro.
As you may already know, my first name is Anna. Simple, short, elegant, and forever associated with the movie Frozen. I was named after my great aunt Annie. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting her because she died a year before I was adopted. My parents described her as "completely lovable and terrifying at the same time" and "a force of nature." I feel like we would have gotten along really well. A perk of having such a simple name is that everyone can pronounce it and it comes with lots of nicknames. Many times I've been called "banana" or some variation thereof. My sister calls me "Ann" and one of my friends calls me "Annie."
As much as I like the simplicity of my first name, I always resented the fact that my parents weren't more creative with my sister and I's first names. Peppi and Oscar are very unique names, but Olivia and Anna? Not so much.
My middle name is Bella. In Italian it means beautiful. The name, however, didn't come with any family significance except for the fact that it reinforces the Italian-ness of my name. Although, my middle name does come with some caveats. Whenever I go to the doctors or the dentist, I sign myself in as Anna, but if my dad signs me in, he signs me in as Annabella. We constantly bicker over the fact that my name is Anna and not Annabella, but he consistently insists that because he named me, he knows what's right and what's not. It sort of makes sense that he calls me Annabella because in Italian families, a lot of people have the same names, so we resort to nicknames. For example, my aunt's name is Maria, but we call her Bigi and my cousin's name is Maria, but we call her Chiara.
A fact that my Dad thought I should point out is that no one in my family except for my mom technically uses their given name. When I was adopted, I was Melea. When my sister was adopted, she was Guo-Yu-Ai (I'm pretty sure I botched the spelling on that one), but now she's Olivia. My dad's name is Orazio, but he goes by Oscar. I guess that's part of the experience of integrating into a new culture.
Unfortunately, my last name is not as easy as my first and middle name. Masciandaro (pronounced ma-shin-da-ro) is a mouthful for people, even Italians. My Italian teacher can't even pronounce my last name correctly. Never in my whole life has someone pronounced my last name correctly on the first try, except for one of my middle school teachers, but he had my sister before me so that's cheating. My last name not only connects me to Italy, but it also makes me the target of nicknames, some of which are fairly creative. In first grade, one kid in my class couldn't pronounce my last name, so in instead of trying to get it right, he resorted to calling me "Anna Marshmallow."
I didn't mind the nickname that much because I love marshmallows, the nickname stuck with me to today as my Finsta now takes on a variation of Anna Marshmallow. One of my friends also calls me mashed potatoes. How that nickname came into play, I'm not really sure of, but it's still a good nickname because I love mashed potatoes (as long as they're doused in gravy.) The uniqueness of my last name also makes it easier to track down family members which I have now learned are scattered across the US, Italy, and Argentina.
My name is my name. It's simple and complicated at the same time, but I carry it with pride all the same. It has history and meaning attached to it, but I don't let that define how I use my name and what my name means to me.