Choosing my own name

I wrote about how annoying having an Asian name is when you live in a Western country. Not only will people mess up your pronunciation, they also will mix up your first and last names and randomly assign you a middle name, let alone misspelling it completely on official records.

Like many Asian kids, apart from our real, legal names, I go by my “Anglicized” name in real life. Since my parents don’t speak a word of English, I was fortunate enough to be able to pick my own “Anglicized” name. Why do I say fortunate? I really hate how my birth name sounds and look when it’s written out. It’s just a name on my ID. I avoid using it professionally or socially at all costs.

Being able to choose how I want to be called liberated me from the burden of being associated to an identity that I don’t identify with. I think it’s the same thing as people going by their middle names or initials rather than their first names.

When I picked my own name (a variation of “Nicky”), I was not a sophisticated soul like i am at today (*cough*). I went with it solely because I thought it sounded and looked cool. It was a rather unusual name that it sounded energetic and fun to me, unlike aged names like Elizabeth or Mary (No offense to Elizabeths or Marys out there. These are beautiful names if you have the right personalities for them. Just not me. They remind of queens with powdery cakey faces!!!!).

I picked my name and used it for quite a number of years without knowing what it really meant. As I grow older, as more people recognize me by that name instead of my birth name, I think I really have become that energetic, fun person who hates being ordinary.

When I was 18 or so, I finally looked up the meaning of my chosen name and learned that like all variations of the name Niketas, such as Nicholas, Nicole, Nikolai, it means:


Now that I’ve grown into this person who prides herself for being so damn headstrong, as if it’s not a negative trait. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was the name itself that had picked me so many years ago.

Then again, I just can’t imagine being called Elizabeth or Mary 🙂


About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
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