What do you get when you mix the sixth month of the year with smelly tinned fish and a petting zoo? My name: Juna Xu.
Welcome to the unfortunate series of events that is my life.
My name gave people a chance to poke fun at me during my childhood.
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I was the subject of ridicule; being told I was everything from pungent canned tuna to the pregnant teenager movie character Juno MacGuff. Coupled with my Chinese surname (pronounced 'zoo'), it presented kids and teachers the opportunity to come up with a range of puns and jokes.
Teachers would hesitate to pronounce my name and countless of my school awards were addressed to a middle-aged Mexican man named Juan.
The icing on the cake? Finding out that even on my brother’s birth certificate (may I stress this is a legal document?) my name is spelt T-U-N-A. I am legally a fish.
Sure, most of the name teasing was harmless and of a satirical nature growing up, but it did get to a point where it took a toll on my psyche, affected my self-worth and forced me to question my identity - especially when it happened on a daily basis.
I was as young as 10 and would lie awake at night thinking about what blissful life I would be living if my parents had just given me a 'normal' name like Jane or Julia.
Twenty-five years of lugging these six letters around and the nicknames keep on coming, so much so that it has become a running joke to see how creative one can get trying to spell my name.
From Juanana to Xuna, Junie, Juju, Xuna Yu, Jana and even just Xu Xu, people really do get innovative with what is, in my opinion, a relatively simple name to spell. I’ve learnt to accept it with a glass-half-full and see it as a source of pure entertainment every time I open up another email and see version #14356 of how to spell Juna Xu (seriously, it’s right there in the email, the spelling does not change!).