I was in the hospital visiting my best cousin of all times, who had just given birth to a beautiful little boy called Riley.
Riley was sleeping. And we, my cousin and I, were chatting.
“Riley sounds to be a pretty name! Is there any special meaning lying behind?”, I curiously asked Jane, the cousin.
“Nah not really, we [Jane and her husband Kym] looked up online for baby boys’ names and Riley came to us as the first result,…”, Jane laughed.
I laughed along. Naming can be just that quick and easy. I remembered asking my parents about the meaning of my name, and they told me a whole story (well, a secret as they called) behind it. Vietnamese parents see naming a child as a complex process. You want the name to sound beautiful. And also has specific meanings. Usually, the names are chosen based on how parents want their children to be like when they grow up.
For a long time after coming to Australia, anyone hardly calls my real name. Not only because it’s hard to pronounce, but is also a bit of a challenge to remember.
NHI. That’s my Vietnamese name.
At the age of eight, with all of a kid’s curiosity about herself and the world around, I asked my parents about the meaning of my name.
“Minh Thao Nhi Nguyen, such a long name!”, I complained.
“Every word has its own meaning, darling!”, Dad smiled at me. “Well, except your last name, which named after mine, the other names are kind of an artwork.”, he laughed loudly.
“Minh” means bright. My parents want me to grow up being a smart girl not only in my academic career but also in every decision I make in life.
“Thao” means filial to the beloveds, loving and caring. Thao carries the hope that I would become someone who is either respectful to her parents or nice and sweet to everyone she meets along her growing – up – journey.
And “Nhi” means as a girl, I am believed to be pretty, gentle and tender.
“Your mom’s name, Nguyet, can be understood as the moon in literal meaning. Mine means the mountain. And you came to us, added another detail to our family picture. “Thao Nhi” also means “a small but beautiful meadow“. As a family, we’re harmonising and can get really well together.”, Dad explained.
At this point, I fell so in love with that name.
At the BCM313 seminar last Friday, we were asked to introduce ourselves. And I chose “Nini” as a preferred name. This is not because I don’t love my real name anymore, but Nhi is actually a pain for my foreign friends to pronounce. I believe it’s not what name that people use to call you, but your personality and the ways you make others feel that matter.
Stepping into the real workplace environment also means you’re on the way of creating, building and advertising your own brand. How do you appear in the employees’ and colleagues’ eyes when they mention your name? Is the self you’re popularising at work the same self to yours in daily life? Does it need to be different from one another?
The first BCM313 class has provoked lots of thinking in me. This when I started to seriously think about how I am branding myself, whether the current image is what I really am and how to manage my brand effectively.
The very first idea, although still being vague, about how to build up a story of a character behind that name you introduce to people has come to mind when I asked a family member, a close friend and a co-worker of how they think about me. When I mention my name, either it’s Nhi or Nini, what will people think of? This is like a reflective exercise. Sometimes you’re not aware of how you’re portraying yourself, until one points it out in front of you. And from this very first task, I have really started to explore myself more and more. Understanding your true self to fix the weaknesses and develop the strengths, this skill is becoming so important. Knowing yourself can build up confidence and maximise one’s potential. And there’s no better way to master this knowledge than storytelling and reflecting your experiences in life.
Everything happens for a reason. There will be always lessons learnt or message received behind each personal story. And the journey of telling stories and building up myself has just begun.
Nhi, or Nini?
Who I am choosing to be?