Speaker: Alexandria Chen
“Alex? Isn’t that a guy’s name? “
How many people here think that Alex is a guy’s name?
How many of you gave me this quizzical look when I told you my name is Alex?
Don’t worry, I get that a lot.
My name is Alexandria, you can call me Alex.
The only people who called me Alexandria were my teachers.
Even then, it was only when I was in trouble.
When I was caught talking to my friends in class, my GP teacher used to say…
“Alexandria, please stop twittering like little birds”
She was the first person to introduce me to twitter.
That was in 2001, 5 years before Twitter was launched.
Other than that, it’s always Alex.
My nicknames included Smart Alex, Alexandria the Great and Alex the Fedex. Not because I can deliver things overnight but apparently that is the only word that rhymes with Alex.
With Alex being a boy’s name, you would think that I mix very well with guys.
You are right.
I grew up under the same roof with my 3 male cousins. Even though my mother dressed me in in pink from head to toe, I never played with a Barbie doll. Instead I played with cars, building blocks and ran around the house with my cousins.
In school, I climbed the monkey bar and arm-wrestled with the boys.
I seem to give guys the best impressions.
In junior college, a male friend once said to me, when I first saw you, I thought you were an ang mo ah lian. In fact, I thought you would walk up to me and spit in my face.
Translation – I though you look like an English speaking female gangster. He added “…but, after knowing you, I think you are nothing like that. “
I have also had people express surprise that I don’t club, drink or smoke because apparently I look very happening. The exact word they used was ‘HAVOC” Of course, I have now changed my ways and have picked up clubbing with Buona Vista Toastmasters Club.
Being tan, people give me surprised looks,
“You can speak Chinese?” “Yes. I am Chinese. “
Not Malay, Indonesian, Thai or Pilipino. This confusion apparently started since I was born. According to my mother, she thought the nurse had brought her a Malay baby.
Despite the wonderful impressions I give guys, I do have traits of a girl in me.
I started drawing classes in kindergarten with my cousins because my aunt is an art teacher and there was no way of escaping art lessons.
When I was 8 years old, I begged my parents to buy me a toy sewing machine because I wanted to sew like my mother. I was so excited to sew, even if it was only straight lines.
This skill came in handy in secondary school. In home economics class. I became the one who can sew straight lines for my friends.
When the teacher is not looking of course.
Today I am a women’s wear designer. I can draw, sew, drape and draft. Instead of building blocks, I create clothes.
While I used to run around the house with my cousins when I was young, now I run along the roads, swim and do yoga.
I no longer twitter, but prefer Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr.
The twittering in class has been replaced by the silence of the library where I love to read.
From that I have learnt this great lesson.
“Never judge a book by its cover, or its name.
If you judge a book by its cover, you might miss out on an amazing story.”
Alex may sound like a boys name, my skin may be tan and I may look havoc, but my story is the most amazing part of my book.