Reinventing yourself is critical to knowing who you are

A.J. Newth, Staff Writer

I have lived four different lives so far.

I am not talking about having multiple personalities, I am talking about my name.

Names have a massive influence on every aspect of our lives. From our career paths, to where we live, who we marry or even the stocks we invest in. Our names can even subconsciously influence the grades we earn, our work ethic and whether or not we donate to charities, according to The New Yorker.

Different cultures also have special traditions when it comes to naming a child. In Chinese culture, the beginning of a bright future all begins with choosing the right name for a child, according to In Arab culture, when a man has a son, his name changes and he is greeted with a combination of Abu (Arabic for father), and his son’s name, according to Arab America. Being a father is so important that a man with a son will forever honor fatherhood through his name.

Growing up, my mother refused to shorten my name, Arianna. She believed that it was so beautiful that it was shameful to alter it to something shorter, even just for convenience. I was addressed by my full name my entire life, until I received my first nickname.

Life brings you many things, and one of the most frequent and unpredictable is the people you meet. Soon enough, I had a friend who called me Ari. I had never had a nickname before, and it became something very special to me. Nicknames reflect how others view the person as well as how the person views themselves, according to Child Research Net. I found myself resonating with “Ari” and I changed. I became a new person.

Arianna began to represent family, my childhood, my first friends and the people who knew me before I knew myself. I wanted to be more than that, I wanted to figure out who I was. Every path led me back to the same problem and it took me so long to realize that my journey of self discovery could not start until I knew my name.

Throughout high school I was known by my last name, Newth. I have sports teams to thank for this, as it’s common for players to be referred to by their last names, especially in professional sports. However, my last name became more than something I heard on the field. I was greeted in the hallways, at local supermarkets, and even by parents, using my last name.

In other cultures, calling someone by their last name can signify anything from a sign of respect to a way to greet strangers. In the United States, last names are more common in professional settings than anything else, according to Everyday Courtesy. In my case, my last name became my preference for all of high school. I embraced this because it created a community of people who I felt understood me simply because they knew what to call me.

After high school, I recognized the power of reinvention. I saw how my name influenced myself and others around me, and how it created a special relationship with each person in my life. If I was approached by someone who I had forgotten, I would immediately know which part of my life they were from depending on what they called me. This theory pushed me to reinvent a new version of myself as I approached college, and I became A.J.

My college friends never questioned my name, except for the occasional inquiry of where the “J” stems from (it comes from my middle name, Jade). I have become the best version of myself in college and I have my name to thank for it. The A.J. version of me likes things that Arianna and Ari never would have. I like art, alternative music, classic films and museums. I enjoy travel, writing, deep conversations and alone time. All of these hobbies are things I learned to love as I discovered who I was, and it all connects back to the name I identify with.

My name changes are a symbol of my growth. At each important stage of my life, I shed an old name only to adopt a new one, with more wisdom and experience than the last. This process of reinvention has helped me acknowledge change and embrace it instead of fearing it. Reinvention is essential to adapting to new situations and rediscovering our purpose in the world, according to IE University, and this all starts with how you identify through your name.

It is never too late to change your name. By doing so you change the way you perceive yourself and others; and this can completely alter the way you live your life. I think it’s essential to reinvent yourself at least four times a lifetime in order to know who you are. So I challenge you to take a long look in the mirror and decide if it’s time for a new version of yourself.

To this day I still have no idea who I am. I may never know. But as of right now I’m Arianna, Ari, Newth and A.J., and that’s enough for me.