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  • Writer's pictureCity of Edmonton Youth Council

CEYC Name Narratives : Name In The Game

Written by: Julianna Galiano | Edited by: Aditi Sharma and Sithara Naidoo

I used to adore my name when I was younger: Julianna Galiano.

Although it is not a special, unique name, it is still my name. I mean I love it. It has a ring to it, right? It has a nice flow to the way it sounds, and in my opinion, it is beautiful. My name became my first source of confidence, something I wrote and said with pride. And trust me, it looks even better written in my extremely dramatic cursive than it does in a basic computer font. To say the least, I love my name and find even the smallest characteristics of it extremely special.

When I entered junior high – oh big whoopie –, I understood the importance of getting good marks to set a solid foundation for my future. If I work hard and dedicate myself to studying, I could be successful, an easy enough concept to grasp. But little did I know that soon enough that would become one of the main things that made up my identity. I, or my name, began to gain a larger, more important, and far more personal meaning.

This new feeling did not sprout from a singular event, or some sort of special moment, but day to day academics. Initially, it came from tests. Tests didn’t allow me to display the large cursive that I loved to do; I had to bubble in letters and write in a small, concise font instead. Then oh my, when you get the bubble sheet back with your name again in this flat, boring font, anxiety would rumble through my body as I read: Julianna Galiano.

Slowly, I had begun to associate my name with one thing: academic achievements and marks. Every time I heard or saw my name – at least at school – I would get a woozy feeling in my stomach. Oh my, what would the grade be next to it and would I be content with it? Would it make or break my mood? Ultimately, I began questioning myself.

Extreme? Maybe, but as the overachiever I am, my name became a marking of self-worth based off of how much I could accomplish. Julianna Galiano, or the name you see on tests and on awards became so much more.

The value that it held to me and the small special meanings that gave me a burst of self-love dwindled. The excitement that my name written in cursive usually gave me became insignificant as the printed computer font on honour roll certificates and on Scantron sheets became far more important.

My name became not only my way of identification but the two word jumble of letters beside a percentage or on a plaque of achievement. It became my deemer of self-worth. Because if Julianna Galiano wasn't written on an award given during a ceremony, or wasn’t beside a nice 95%+, what was it? A name of nothing more than a failure on my own standards, a name that had lost its meaning.

Nonetheless, as absurd as it may sound to tie my name, and consequently my self-worth, to my academic achievement, I notice that it is somewhat of a common occurrence amongst students. Recently, I have been reclaiming those special parts of my name that I loved so dearly by taking a step back and reevaluating my identity. In turn, I have started to realize that you are more than a grade, a mark, or an award.

I am learning that I am allowed to be proud of what I have accomplished and the name that holds the significance under it without letting academic pressures devour me and blur my identity and self-perception.

Stay in school kids! – Julianna Galiano

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