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What’s in your name?

By Klarizza Aggabao

Do you remember the iconic balcony scene in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Juliet questions why Romeo has to be Romeo, a Montague. Her exact quote, “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”

Do you also question why something simple as a name can make a decision or an outcome?

Before you were born, your parents spent long months, sleepless hours, tireless days, jotting down potential names on a basic notepad on the nightstand. Your name probably stemmed from a hero in a favorite book or a relative whose laughs and punny words touched the family in ways. You were probably named after a powerful public figure who paved the way for the little people to reach the stars. Why do you think your parents spent time agonizing over a name?

In Adam Alter’s article in the New Yorker, “The Power of Names,” he states that “words evoke images.” When you tell a story about a Meryl or an Alexander or a Reagan, do you immediately think of a certain type of person, how they are perceived or imagined to look like? What power does a name hold?

Personally, I’ve always struggled with my name – I hated that the spelling wasn’t conventional, normal. My teachers would always butcher pronunciations every first day of class. I guess you can say my name has the power to intimidate people from the get go. A name with a couple of Zs throws people for a loop. I’ve had people tell me that when people think of my name, they imagine me as “fancy” or “put together” when I am actually the first in line on the struggle bus.

I learned later on in high school that a name has power because of the impact, legacy and history it carries with it. My experiences with friends, random people and family has carried “caring,” “weird” and “helpful” to my name. When you’re in a room with a few people with the same first name, how do you stand out enough for your colleagues or professors to notice you?

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