It’s Pronounced Vidhurah

This is something that I know a lot of people can relate to. When the supply teacher walks in and begins the attendance at the beginning of class, I just sit and wait for the inevitable.

“Vi-, Va-, V-…umm…”

“It’s Vidhurah, I’m here.”

The above interaction is usually followed by said teacher attempting to repeat my name, then me saying it again correctly, a back and forth until they either give up or finally get it kind of right. What I tell people is that it rhymes with fedora (as in the very popular type of hat) but starts with a V. When I go to Starbucks I sometimes tell the barista that my name is Victoria which I see as the Western equivalent of my name, or I just shorten it to V. Over the years I’ve learned that I need to “American-ize” it, so to speak. I’ve had to mispronounce my own name so that others can somewhat attempt to say it.

Those extra letters are in my name due to the positions of the stars and planets at my time of birth. All that information was mapped and my family used numerology to plan out the best combination of letters that would bring the most prosperity and luck into my life. I know a lot of us Tamil kids roll our eyes and sigh when we hear the word ‘astrology’ but it’s a pretty interesting tradition of our culture. I love that my name is unique, and to me it has almost a mystical energy around it. I feel like my name protects me, and what I’ve learned from various shows and movies is that a name has power. There is power in identity, a name reflects who somebody is to their most bare spirit. The way you pronounce your name, the way it’s spelled, your name gives you your most basic sense of self.

If  I were to describe it, my name is pronounced with the ‘dhu’ sounding more like ‘thu’, and with the ‘rah’ slightly rolling off the tongue. I’ve spent my whole life hearing people say it differently, but I’ve grown to like it. I’m more grateful of the fact that people at least try and say it the way it was intended. I like how there are so many different ways of saying my name. I’ve heard all the variations, from Vadora to  Vid-who-ra, and I actually find it all quite amusing. I know that many, many people can relate to me, some of us have pretty complicated names, and I know that a lot of us have gotten frustrated at the number of times we’ve had to correct someone.

What I want to say is to forgive those who fail. We grew up pronouncing syllables a certain way, the ‘rah’ sound rolls off my tongue much more easily than for my non-South Asian friends. It’s like how I can’t really pronounce French words properly because I didn’t grow up with the practice of speaking it everyday. Some people just can’t say it right, and that’s honestly okay. I love my name and what it stands for, it has so many meanings that really amaze me. Vidhurah is a Goddess. Vidhurah is to be without beginning, middle, or end, or to suffer separation. Vidhurah is my name and I wear it proudly.

A Rant About Tipping Your Server

There was a period of time when I worked as a waitress in a quaint little breakfast place down deep in Scarborough. My overall experience there was pretty good, I had a great boss, the food was fantastic (who doesn’t love breakfast food) and the customer’s were great people. What really drives me nuts though is the fact that some people don’t think that servers should be tipped. Because of my time as a server, I make sure to always tip generously when I eat out. I have several friends who are currently or have been servers at one point in their lives, they probably understand what I’m saying here. Being a server is stressful. You deal with being on your feet for your entire shift carrying heavy plates back and forth. We carry drinks on trays praying that we don’t slip and cause a major accident. We deal with customers who think they’re high and mighty, and customers who are just generally mean people. There’s literally blood, sweat, and tears that goes into this kind of job. The entire industry is built upon sub-minimum wage and tiresome physical labor.

Being a server means being a master in multi-tasking. You’re constantly making sure that things are up to the standards of the customers. Everything has to be spotless and clean, the food has to be presented perfectly, drinks have to be served immediately, tables have to get their orders at the same time. You have to please the customers, laugh at their jokes and marvel at how great the weather is today. We are essentially the faces of the establishment we’re working at. Customers see us and they have to understand what it is that the restaurant is about. We’re family-oriented, we’re fun, we’re energized, we always have a big smile on our face! You can imagine how tiring that would get after just a few hours. Sometimes it’s actually fun to talk to customers, you get to meet some awesome people from different walks of life. With that being said, there are still those days where you just aren’t “on” all the time. Some days are worse than others, when it gets really busy and you’re not able to deliver as well as you are capable. The feeling of being so stressed out that you want to cry in the middle of your shift is not a fun feeling. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to nearly every server out there. We all have our horror stories.

A vast majority of servers don’t get paid the same amount as the most basic office job. Full-time employees in the service industry rely on tips to get by because minimum wage isn’t paying the rent. I myself was pulling two jobs at the time because the wages just weren’t enough to make my student loan payments. You don’t know which of your servers is trying to pay their way through school with their tips. You don’t know who’s there doing their best to feed their kids. You don’t know who is out of school and doesn’t have the education to get a better job.You don’t know who really needs the money, or who is just trying it out for the experience. Tipping is a standard practice and if you’re one of those people who don’t tip at the end of your meal, then please rethink your decision and understand that if the situation were reversed, your server would definitely tip you. I’m not ignoring the fact that sometimes the service isn’t up to par, and believe me when I say that no one is more sorry and embarrassed by it than your server. It frustrates me when people don’t think that servers deserve to be tipped, don’t demand a service and then belittle the people who provide it for you. That’s exactly what it feels like when we don’t get tipped. It feels pretty damn shitty.

My Story

I grew up hating myself. I always thought that I would be the quiet awkward kid for the rest of my life. I thought that I would be alone, and that no one would love me because I didn’t love myself. I’m ashamed of the destructive thoughts that used to fill my mind, they were not pleasant. I felt ugly, fat, dumb, and like I wasn’t good enough to reach the standards of the people around me. Sometimes I think back to my childhood and wonder why I felt these things. I wasn’t bullied, I had plenty of great friends, but I realize that what I was missing was confidence and reassurance that I was okay the way I was.

My parents aren’t the sentimental type. I get it, they didn’t grow up in a self-obsessed generation like ours, so they didn’t really teach me how to love myself. When I was a kid I never really gave too much thought to how I looked or what I was doing, it was more until I hit puberty and became a teenager that I became more self-conscious, just like every other kid at that age. It’s normal to doubt yourself and to wonder why you look a certain way or why you don’t look a certain way. Maybe for some it’s worse than others.

If you knew me in high school, then you’d know that I had a ton of acne on my face. It was disgusting, to say the least. I cringe every time I think back to those days. There is nothing anyone can say to me now that will make me feel better about my face from that part of my life, and I’ve come to terms with it. It made me feel incredibly self conscious about myself, and I started to find other things about myself that I didn’t like. I hated how my front teeth were slightly larger than normal, it made me stop smiling wide. I hated my big thighs, they rub against each other and made holes in the thigh areas of my favorite jeans. I hated my small eyes, I always got huge framed glasses to make them seem bigger. I hated my hair, it used to be puffy and flat. There were many, many things that I wished I could change about myself. Like any other girl my age I wanted to be skinnier, to be smarter, to be cool, interesting, funny, social. I wanted to be happy, and I wasn’t happy with the way that I was.

Sometimes I would stand in front of my mirror and just stare at myself. Years ago, all I saw were imperfections. All the curves that I wanted to flatten out, all the scars that I wanted to hide. It was at some point in my post secondary career that I finally committed to clearing the acne off my face, I refused to be discouraged by things that I can’t control. Someone taught me that my odd teeth are endearing. Someone showed me how to dress to my body type. Someone showed me how to use makeup to my advantage. Someone helped me realize I didn’t even need makeup to feel pretty. Someone tells me I’m beautiful every single day. These people in my life have taught me to love myself, all of my curves and imperfections included. When I look in the mirror now, I see a young woman who’s on the way to loving herself in all her glory. I adore my love handles, I love my smiles, my wild curly hair, my slender fingers. I love my body, the way my tattoo wraps me in a hug and my curves that make me feel fantastic in a dress.

It’s important for people to start being confident in themselves. By loving yourself, you gain control over your life. Sometimes I still feel like I’m a bore, a bland wallflower in the background. That’s something I’m working on, it’s not shameful to admit your insecurities. I think that I’m a creative, beautiful person. I think that I’m a smart and caring person. I think I’m pretty awesome, and I’m proud of myself for coming such a long way from an insecure teenager to a confident young woman. I’m so grateful for the people in my life who’ve gifted me with pieces of confidence that have built up my self-esteem, and I hope that I can do the same for my friends who need a little extra boost. Just keep doing you, and along the way you’ll love who you are.