Originally Published On Unwritten

My name is four syllables and it’s spelled “weirdly”. I say “weirdly”, because it’s not weird to me, but it’s not the Americanized way of spelling it, so it’s dubbed as weird.

In my four months of medical school, I’ve grappled with trying to change my name to make it easier for my classmates, patients, and supervisors. But I realized I shouldn’t have to. People should be willing to wait the extra 2 seconds it takes to let me say all four syllables of my name, instead of just calling me Julie because that’s the syllable they stopped listening at.

This is important especially for the patients I will one day serve. Names carry stories. A name may seem like the smallest of things to get hung up on, but taking 10 seconds to learn and acknowledge a name can go a long way in making someone feel like they are heard and valued. This poem came from my internal dialogue in navigating the use of my name and my newfound resolve to not make concessions about who I am.


how is it that a name
with its letters arranged just so
means everything and nothing at all

to you
my name is nothing more than letters
arranged in a strange way

you mold them and arrange them
how you wish
making the letters fit
on your page
and in your mouth
in a way, that makes sense to you

but to me, that makes no sense at all

each letter
carries generations of my family
traveling across the ocean
for the promise of better

when you make me fit
into your idea of my name
you strip away parts
of me

you see, a name means something
for me, it is home
a reminder
of where I came from
of where I still have to go

so, how is it that a name
with its letters arranged just so
means everything and nothing all?

Feature image via kaylakane

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