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.