The Daily Struggles Of Living With A Name That Is Not Considered 'Normal'

The Daily Struggles Of Living With A Name That Is Not Considered 'Normal'

My name is No 'O' Livia.
Livia
Livia
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If you have any name that is not considered "normal" in the book of baby names, you feel my pain on this. While I feel thankful to have a first name that is not the most common, it can be very frustrating at times when I need to explain to people that I am "No 'O' Livia."

When I was little I would have done anything to have a "normal" name and get the 'O' added to my name, yet at almost 21 years old, I now am forever thankful my mom decided to think out of the box.

So to answer the question you're probably wondering, there really is not an 'O' in my name.

Why?

Simply because my mom didn't want it and liked the name "Livia" better.

Anticlimactic I know.

The first day of school is always a bit of a struggle. For example, yesterday I started my summer class and my teacher had a quick Q&A form with me in front of the whole class about my name, how to spell it, and why there is not an O.

Speaking of class, in high school whenever there was a substitute teacher they would call the roll until they got to "Lee-ve-a" I would silently roll my eyes and explain it was pronounced just like "Olivia" but without the 'O', no weird pronunciation is needed just because a letter is missing.

Legal documents also tend to be a nightmare because even if I meet someone and get them to say "Livia", they still automatically think that my legal name is "Olivia", so they write that on a document, then everything is messed up and now "No 'O' Livia" is sad.

On the plus side, I get to wow the elderly customers that I serve at work.

Me: "Hello! How are you all today...my name is Livia, I'll be taking care of you..."

Older customer, pushing glasses up to the top of their nose and squinting while leaning in much closer to look at my name tag: "But why is it not Olivia"

Me, fake laughing for the 15th time that night: "Because I couldn't buy the vowel!"

Customer: "Hahahaha, boy, are you clever!"

(Not really, I've used this saying probably ten thousand times already and I do it in the hopes that you'll like me and tip well.)

Now that this name issue is over, hurry up and tell me what you want to drink.

So I maybe have a few jokes. But what was not funny was when I was little and wanted a souvenir with my name on it from a new place that we had visited. You know what I'm talking about, the little touristy key chains you see in gift shops, or the personalized coffee mugs, license plate names, etc. Well, my childhood did not consist of any of these items.

Traumatic, I know.

So for what its worth, I am happy to be named Livia. Although frustrating at times, I feel it gives a good story and is a name people will remember!

Now for getting it added to the book of baby names...

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.
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Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.




Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

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The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

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