My name is a big deal

Rejection is a big deal.

When I’ve applied for dozens of jobs

That lead to dead-end after dead-end

 

Insecurity is a big deal.

When I’ve been told that the name of my school will definitely land me a job

And then when it doesn’t, I start to think there is something wrong with every decision I’ve made

 

Shame is a big deal.

When my parents keep asking me if I’ve gotten a job yet

And I keep reassuring them I’ll get an offer eventually even though I’m not even sure myself

 

Jealousy is a big deal.

When that girl got a better opportunity than me

Even though I’ve worked with her before, and I think I’m way more competent than she is

 

Excitement is a big deal.

When I send out just a handful of resumes with someone else’s name on them

And I get an immediate response

 

Desperation is a big deal.

When Janet and I apply for the same position with the same credentials,

And Janet accepts the interview offer because Phan hasn’t heard back

 

Confusion is a big deal.

When Janet goes in for her first interview

And the interviewer is “impressed” by her resume

 

Fear is a big deal.

When I have to double check my emails, my greetings, my meetings, my voicemail, my—everything

To make sure that attached to every single thing is the wrong name

At a time when I wasn’t ready to change it

 

Annoyance is a big deal.

When all my friends with English names call my dilemma “interesting”

Because they couldn’t come up with a better word to describe systemic oppression

—uh, I don’t know, let’s say, like “fucked up,” for example

 

Crazy is a big deal.

When people around me say it’s not a big deal,

And I feel like a crazy conspiracy theorist who is unwilling to simply let my name disappear quietly

 

Pride is a big deal.

When I have a story and meaning behind my real name

That I can’t share with other people

Because my identity has essentially been erased.

Because my name is Janet now

 

Guilt is a big deal.

When my parents told me they will keep working until the day they die

Because I’m not making enough to support either of us yet

 

Betrayal is a big deal.

When I’ve been told my whole life that simply working hard is enough to get me anywhere I want,

That I will always be successful because of what I do, not who I am

And I find out that it is all a lie

 

Powerlessness is a big deal.

When I thought I could change the world

But in the end I had to change who I am simply to make myself noticed

 

Hope is a big deal.

When I still haven’t given up

Because Janet got her name from Googling “Most common names for CEO women”

Maybe, just maybe, it will become a big deal.

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