[essay] What does your name mean?

If you know me well, you must have known that I have a very long name. I have been called lots of names before, but I feel like I am my complete self when one calls me by my middle name, Titis or simply “Tis“.

I have been bullied a lot back home because of my name (because if you mistyped my name in Indonesian, it would become a dirty word. AS WELL AS IN ENGLISH, in fact. Tough life). That’s why I like it better when people call me correctly with just the second syllable of my name; which conveniently, is the same with how they say the first syllable of Tuesday in Swedish “TIS-dag”.

Growing up, I was mad at my parents, for obvious reasons. I had to be two times faster to mark my names in the “bulleted” Computer-Marking exam papers which always give me sore fingers. My name is never written entirely on my passport as it is too long and they had to make a second page just to explain that my name is too long. I got suspended for half an hour to have interviews in two airports when I was traveling alone because my names in the passport and on the tickets are different because they had to make abbreviations. And of course, the bullies.

Moving to a completely new environment in Sweden has given me a chance to decide which name should I use. I thought about it for a long time before I flew to Sweden. Surprisingly I dared to use the same nickname in Indonesia. I could’ve used Alberta, but I don’t think that suits my personality. It was given by my godfather and the church anyway, so I don’t feel so personal about it.

When I introduce myself in Sweden, of course, many people were confused how to pronounce it correctly at first (but I think most of them succeeded in the end! yay you guys!). I had two experiences when I got laughed at because of my name here. I hated the experience and still cannot forget the people who actually LOLed at my name. But that made me really really appreciate those who actually appreciated my name.

There has been a huge heartbreaking moment for me when I was trying to find a job/internship. I applied for more than 70 positions in 4 months. I did not get anything. I thought to myself, am I that lame? I thought I had the skills, but maybe not? Or do I look that bad? Then, there have been times when I was frustrated, I cried a lot, I felt like a failure. Then a kind friend helped me out a lot. He is excellent, and I am very thankful that he was willing to spend his time helping me. As he has been working for quite a while, he had lots of things to say about the professional life, including tips on improving my CVs and all. But unfortunately, he is not an architect, so he does not know much about the current demands for architects.

He finally connected me to a kind and professional architect who was willing to help to review my application documents. She said my portfolio is on point, my skills are highly needed now, just one software that I need to learn ASAP to match the market’s needs. Then, comes her last point on her eight-paragraph-long email. Although her intentions were positive, and I appreciated it so much, I have deleted this email as it was too sad. I remembered that she suggested me to shorten my name and pick the words that are “easy”. She said that it could be that my name has been one of the reasons that I am not “easy to remember” enough in this environment.

[pause. let me sigh]

She was saying it in a very understanding and kind way that she understands that it is part of my identity yada yada yada. But still. I was already frustrated at the time, and her suggestion was a little hard to accept. At that moment, I did not care if it is true, but I want to stand up for my rights of having this name, and won’t change it for this cause. It broke my heart, really. It opened an old wound which made me thought “Really? My name has given me troubles, again? Even in this environment where people say so welcoming?”.

I literally said to myself, okay if this is true then those places don’t deserve me anyway. There must be a place where they care about the skills instead of eliminating people just merely based on this shallow reason.

I know this case does not only apply to me, having a long, hard to pronounce names and all. I am incredibly grateful for having this name now. I won’t trade it for anything. I just wanted to share my thoughts that we were all born and given a name, for we are loved by someone.

There is a saying in Indonesia “a name is a prayer”. My mom said my name is a sentence which means “the right one” in Sanskrit. While actually my nickname, Titis, means “bullseye”, as in “right on point” in Javanese. I want to keep it and embrace it. It sounds a little fierce, don’t you think? I am no longer angry at my parents, thankfully, haha! I know now, that my name is quite unique that they put so much meaning in it. One of my friend Marcus, he said to me that in Sweden if you have lots of names, it means you are loved so much. Well, I guess my parents will agree to that 🙂 I am thankful. Thanks, Ma, Pa.

Phew. That was a long thought. To end this blog, I also want to mention a disclaimer that this essay is purely based on my thoughts, experiences, and opinions. I am hoping that you enjoy reading my blogs, and looking forward to exchanging views about anything!

What does your name mean?

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