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.


Breakup Confessions

You tell me you love me

And I want to believe it.

I don’t think I can see it.

I don’t think it’s even there.

When you tell me I’m beautiful

Is that really true?


With my heart broken so many times

How can I trust myself to love?

How will I know that the safety I feel isn’t going to dissolve?

How do I know what real love feels like if I every time I’ve said it

I’ve gotten nothing in return?

As that love has gone on unreciprocated

I begin to question if love is even worth chasing.

I begin to wonder if I can really love at all

Since I can’t really quantify my ability to love with decimals.

I’ve never seen the impact of that love

I’ve never been told that my love has done something right.

So what was event the point when

Everything simply culminated into a fight?

When that love disappeared with the wind?

I let those seeds scatter

But I’m still left with nothing.

Nothing grew from them.

They just fell to the ground.

Nothing grew from them.

So you can imagine my reaction

When I said I wouldn’t try that again.

Where did all that love go?

What was it all worth?

I still feel empty-handed.

It’s hard to think back on it

Without still feeling hurt.


So how can I love someone else if I can’t love myself?

How can I love him if I don’t see what he sees?

Because in my experience with men

Love changes so easily.

I’ve fallen in love with guys who don’t show it back.

Yeah, I would break up with them.

I can justify myself all day,

But at the end of it all

I’m the one who’s feeling like crap.

Am I just trying to have someone fill the hole I’ve dug myself?

Because it just feels like I’m trying to cover something up.


My thoughts are sporadic

And I question myself so much

That it’s hard to come to a decision.

I don’t think I’m ready.

Because it feels way too good to be true.

Nothing feels right

Because I’ve done nothing to deserve this.

I really can’t believe he’s mine.

And I really don’t want to lose my place in line.

So sometimes I want to ask

If I can take a number

Because I need to process what is going on

Before I can say, “I’m ready to order.”

I know I sound ridiculous

But hear me out.

I just have to make sure

You know what you’re getting yourself into

If you ask me to a date.

Because if you break up with me

Everything is fair game.

Because if you break up with me

I will berate you in the most elegant way I can.

That’s one part of me I don’t question

Because that’s just who I am.


Sorry Not Sorry

Male patriarchy, you can take a seat.

I have had enough.

You speak up before I have even spoken a word.

But I let you speak because you ought to be heard.

I validate your perspective because “sorry” is something I learned.

Ignorance and Intelligence both start with an “I”

But you can only have the latter if you have an open mind.

You accuse me of making mountains out of molehills

Because, “Baby, you don’t need to worry about the little things because we got chemistry.”

So I’m not supposed to look at my lover with a critical eye

Because I’m supposed to be obedient, submissive, and shy.

And I’m not allowed to talk about my insecurities

While you disclose to me all your sexual fantasies.


Go on, male patriarchy, just be yourself

Because stealing from the oppressed will add to your wealth.

Because society isn’t forcing it down your throat

Telling you to be somebody else.

Your sisters were down when you kicked them

Cause you think that holding a grudge means you’re the victim.

A girl who speaks her mind—you weren’t ready to hear it

So you tell her that her emotions are inappropriate.

So as I’m asking you to make an attitude shift

You turn around and call me a bitch.

Because a woman’s right to speech is stupid.

Because if I can’t take your criticism then I’m just stupid.

But if my brother taught me to have a thick skin

What does that make him?

I’m just being myself.

So I speak to you—

To my brother, to my ex’s, to my boyfriend, to my sexists,


Your rational mind isn’t rationally kind.

So if you want an equivalent exchange,

Then we don’t owe you shit.