Na-ta-sha? Nas-ta-sha? Na-ta-sia? Nope. Nas-ta-ssia. Interestingly enough, Grammarly thinks that my name is a mistake. I, however, do not.
When I first came to the US about eight years ago, I was so proud to introduce myself – “My name is so beautiful, unique, and melodic”, I thought. I was quickly faced with the harsh reality of people mispronouncing or shortening my name, the reality of my otherness, my foreignness. In an attempt to fit in, I made myself easier to address, telling acquaintances and coworkers they can call me Nas – sweet and short, and easy to remember.
In my childhood, in my country my I was always one of many – my name was a very popular one, and it sometimes felt like I was a part of a not-so-secret society. I was on of four Nastya’s in my school class of 18 people, and that was a general idea of statistics of the name.
However, my country officially uses two languages: Russian and Belarusian, and, the same name sounds different in them. Our passports not only carry our names in Russian and Belarusian but also have a transliterated version in English .. and that’s where the trick lies. There are no set rules there, and the name you get is dependent on the choice of the person who issues your documents (or your parents, if they do ask for a specific preference, which is rare). That’s where the divide comes.
This way, my name is Nastassia, yet my best childhood friend’s name is Russian-acquired Anastasia (so much more familiar and pronounce-able by foreigners – Disney has done a great job at that).
Alas, I love MY name. It is in the language of my land, forgotten and not used by many (post-USSR, Russian remains to be the most used language of Belarus), but luckily still taught in schools. It is the language of poets, artists, creators, people who believe that there is a better future for Belarusian people and the Belarusian language.
In my name, there are things that I want to remember and things that I’ll never forget, wherever in the world I might be.
I am no longer making myself comfortable for people around me. I have only one name, and it is Nastassia. It has become a filter of sorts: people who care will remember or ask again, and people who don’t will butcher. Perhaps, it’s the people who have had similar experiences, who will be the most attentive.
But it doesn’t matter – I’m happy to correct your pronunciation and get my name known.
– NASTASSIA | НАСТАССЯ | АНАСТАСИЯ