Growing Up with a Foreign Name

It’s Pronounced Sea-Gaul

I moved to the states when I was 11 years old. It was then and there that I realized that my name was damn complicated for people to pronounce properly. I wished for a name like Sam or Ashley — something totally American. All through middle school and high school, during the first day of school, teachers would call my name out during attendance but pronounce it like seagull. That would then be followed by insanely immature students making seagull noises. Haha guys, SUUUUPER funny.

In Israel, where I’m from, Sigal is a very well-known name, albeit rather old school, but easily pronounceable and happily normal. Living in South Florida during middle and part of high school, introduced me to the American way of pronouncing my name. It was a revelation, but over time I became desensitized to the wrong sound and just nodded. I did manage to explain to people how to pronounce it though, I would say: Sigal, like Steven Seagal.

To all of you out there with a unique name, I feel you. I ended up going by my middle name, Charlie, much of the time, especially at Starbucks — they mess up everyone’s name no matter how banal. These days, I put my first and middle name on everything to give people a choice of what name to use — if Sigal is too hard for you to deal with, then here’s another option for ya!

At the end of the day my name is mine and I don’t know this life without it. I will continue to correct people as they butcher the crap out of it and will be continuously surprised when someone gets it right. I sometimes wonder if professionally speaking, my name will somehow hurt my chances of getting a job or being put on a specific project because of its complex nature. Then I realize that that’s ridiculous and if someone makes a decision about me based on my name then they’re straight up wack.

Originally published on Stark Mirror.