I've been running my business for a few years but I've come out in front of my business and social media platforms for only about a year now.
I've always asked someone else to do it for me as I didn't have the confidence to talk to people as I'm not a native English speaker and scared of saying things wrong but since I've come out from behind the scenes, the support has been amazing and I'm feeling grateful with my community. I was able to build connections with people who I'd never come across if it wasn't for social media, especially on Instagram.
Recently, I've stumbled on to so many amazing female accounts and I saw Makiko Hastings's blog via The Rebel Woman’s Club. The story of her experience was so much familiar, I felt my eyes were going to pop out and my heartbeat was getting louder and louder while I was reading her blog. Since then, I've discovered a lot more of incredible women and Rida @beforeandagain_ was organising Gxlentine2019 meet up with Rabya @sheflourished_/ in Birmingham so, I went. I knew little about this meet up if I'm honest and I didn't know anyone there in person, so It was a really brave thing to go and see new people for me. I never used to be scared of meeting new people but since I've been living in the UK it has changed me and that's another story to tell for next time.
Anyway, I've met many lovely people but mostly I was in such a shock after the talk from Yazzie @standforhumanity She ripped me open to see the reality about racism and POC's life. I'm not saying I didn't know about it. I'm saying it's such a hard thing to face openly that I've tended to brush it under the carpet and pretended I was ok.
It was such an awakening moment for me and hearing everyone's sighs and tears in the room during her talk made me feel the agony. How come these girls having so much pain in their life even though they're much younger than me. But then, it hit me again. It has never been away, I've been hiding it and saw pictures of my two girls in that room crying, right that moment. It tore me up so much.
One of the things Yazzie was talking about was us POC have colonised thinking in our minds that the history and system pushed into our mind and captured us in.
I started using an English name after a while living in the UK. Purely because people find it hard to call me my Korean name. Not everyone, some patiently tried hard to get my name right and some still called my name whether they pronounced it rightly or wrongly, they were really making the effort. But often I get questions like 'Do you have an English name? Can I call you "Seo" instead? Especially at work when people can't remember my name, I can see the discomfort to talk to me, to just start and make conversation with me is so awkward or maybe it wasn't just my name. Maybe because I look different and I don't speak proper English. I don't know but do you remember Rachel from Friends? When she got a new job she started smoking because her boss and colleagues are out in the office and discussing the job while they are smoking so she couldn't get involved in a project? When I watched it (yes, I watched it quite later but it's my favourite TV show), I felt for her. It felt like I was doing the same thing accept Rachel has white skin, English speaker, knows her culture, rich father, friends and family around so when her life gets tough, she could hug them and cry on their shoulder.
Not being a part of things, it sucks. Being ignored, it left scars on my heart. No one forced me to have an English name but I felt like I had to do it to fit in even for just a little bit, for my job and career so that was choice I made. But no one calls me my English name in our family or friends. I kept it sperate so I know I can be a real person for my personal life. I wasn't 100% ok with it but I got comfortable with it but every time when I introduce myself, it didn't feel right. I felt there is something wrong with what I'm doing. We gave our 2 girls Korean names so that they can carry that part of themselves with their name - not try to hide it away. I'm really proud of what we've done but what about me? Why should I use a fake name to make other people's life easy?
It was my choice to come here and settle. It was my choice to bring two loving humans into this world. So, I have a responsibility to make a better world for them and whenever they have questions about themselves and puzzled with life, the system, people, I need to be ready for them to talk - so I think having my real name 'Seohyun' in any situation will be a good start. And I know it's only a start and so much to learn and it won't be easy but the problem of racism/white supremacy won't go away unless we talk about it, make people to get involved for the good changes.
So, no more Sienna :) There is even a Youtube video 'how to pronounce Seohyun' because there is a famous celebrity - See? My name is special :) Keep practicing, you'll get there :)
I also want to acknowledge that I saw hope and love in that small room full of inspiring women, working on something heavy in such a beautiful way for their future and what they believe. I hope I can help my girls do the same. Fight to love not to hate. So I'm here, ready to listen. Let's hear it hard and working on it together.