JennaX, 10th- White Plains, NY
In Arabic, “Jenna” means little bird. I was always fascinated by this particular meaning of my name as I see myself embodying it each and every day. Though I have my downtimes, I often go about my days in a spirited and energetic manner, trying to soar through my daily tasks, work, challenges, and life in general with ease and fluidity. There is no doubt that it is difficult to put up a front at all times to portray that I have everything under control, but I always find ways to overcome my stress by flying straight through the mess, managing it head-on. My name means so much to me, from the courage it provides me to seize the day to the little nuisances it causes – all of which help me grow into a stronger person.
My name is Jenna. Not Jen, Jennifer, and especially not Julia. I am the third and last child in my family to have a “J” name, setting us, or at least me, up for future mispronouncing and mix-ups with almost everyone we would come to know. My cousins, aunts, uncles, and even my parents would mix us up from time to time. When I entered the school system, though, that is when the endless cycle of misidentification reached a whole new level.
Almost all of the teachers I have ever had have called me by my sister’s name (Julia) since they taught her years before me. They would defend themselves with the claim that we look identical and would apologize, but they continued to make the same mistake over and over as if they never remembered doing it in the first place. I understand that there is some resemblance between us, but certainly not enough to permit the continuous confusion with my name – the one word whose sole purpose is to provide me with a sense of individuality. My frustration may appear ridiculous to some, but other younger siblings who have had similar experiences will understand that it is upsetting to be called the name of another time and time again, making you feel neglected and not worth remembering.
The indifference that people have had towards making an effort to get my name right has followed me to this very day of my life. Even today, someone who I have known for nearly six months addressed me as my sister’s name when the last time they had come in contact was over four years ago. It’s irritating since I see them almost every day, and they fail to make the effort to break this habit. My rage built up in an instant, and I no longer had control of my emotions. But then the anger shifted into self-doubt. I asked myself, “Am I that unmemorable?” and “Is ‘Jenna’ that complicated?” wondering why this annoyance continues to follow me everywhere I go – as if I don’t have a presence radiant enough to create my own individual identity.
Despite my insecurity, I remind myself that whether or not they may remember it, I have my own name – a name that is a true representation of who I am on the inside. It relates to how I carry myself, as I aim to be more carefree to enjoy life while I can, rather than dwell on my doubts forever. Being the little bird I am has brought me the courage to push aside my struggles and understand that I can rise above problems coming at me in all different directions, gliding through to go with the wind. Regardless of what the world has in store for me, this little bird is ready to take it head-on.
Students 6th-12th Grades