The Story of My Name

I’ve always complained about my parents being over protective just like every other Chinese kid.

But look at me, I left home at 18 and never went back ever since. I went to college in Beijing, and then Hong Kong. Almost five years ago I flew to the US and stayed in San Francisco for another four years of my life. I am a rebel. And my Mom’s okay with that.

It also occurred to me that my parents are different. They actually let me make my decisions when I was a kid.

They let me chose my name.

I changed my name when I was in fifth grade in primary school. It was at first my mom’s idea. I was originally named “Yi-fan”(依凡), which is extracted from a Chinese proverb that says “Happiness is being mediocre” or “To gain happiness is to actualise the mean”. I disliked my original name at the first time I heard the meaning behind it. Being mediocre? That’s the least happy thing in the world! My mom also didn’t like it after I was born, obviously.

She told me about the idea of changing my name and asked me if I had any ideas for a new name. Wow! A life decision at the age of 10 ? I was really excited. I looked up some of my favorite Chinese characters from the dictionary and drew a list of my potential future names. On top of the list is my current name: “Yi-xuan” (盛以宣).

I can’t remember the reasons why I chose that. It’s just an epiphany. The 10-year-old girl liked it.

Mom also came up with her list, but she agreed to use mine eventually. “It’s your name after all, I want you to choose,” I remembered she said that. She also said that she loved the third character “宣” because it’s a symmetrical figure. Maybe that’s a cooler interpretation of my name.

The next day she took me to the department where people change information of their identity or names. Not long after I was quite familiar with my new name, and when people called me by my former name, I thought they were talking to someone else.

That is how I got my name, and I’m proud of it.

My parents are very traditional asian parents who try their best to keep their kids safe and warm. They are also very bold at letting me do my own things. It’s the best of both worlds.

When I was 17, I applied to a bunch of universities in Beijing because I just wanted to study in another city. Usually families in my homtown Shanghai would not want their kids to go outside of the city because there are already quite a lot of good universities to choose from. But mom is different. She’s a romantic.

“Remember when we took a trip to Beijing in 2001 and you said you would come back again for the Olympics? It’s 2008 now. And you want to go to Beijing. Maybe it’s your fate!”

So there I went to Beijing for school in 2008, and spent the most memorable four years there and that’s also the first time I’ve ever left my parents. I was never on my own. But when it happened, I just nailed it.

Another thing that came to my mind about mom is that when we had a huge fight over my future career. At one summer vacation, I told my parents that I wanted to become a freelance blogger. ( It was writer at first but I made some modifications for them)

Dad was okay with it( because he was with me 101% of the time), but mom was furious. She thought such thing as a freelancer was ridiculous and so uncertain. “Will your blog go public on the stock market? ” Obviously that’s how Chinese parents value a business at that time.

“ I thought you would be supportive. You are always supportive.”

“Only if it’s good for you. I want you to have a stable job so you can enjoy your life.”

“I am enjoying my life!”

Of course she compromised at last, mom ended the fight with a bit sad tone.“I feel old because I don’t follow your new plans and jobs any more.”

I felt sorry when she said that because that meant I didn’t talk to her much about my recent life. It was my fault to let her not understand me. That conversation always haunted me whenever Mom looks confused at me.

I started to write tech blogs for real in year four at college and continued doing that in HK afterwards. It was not a real job but I enjoyed doing it. Blogging also led me to many other great things in my life, for example, my first startup.

At the end of 2013, I called mom out of nowhere and said, “ Mom, I’m going to the US to start a company, with my boyfriend(whom I started dating 3 months ago through blogging) Are you….. okay with that?” I was literally no idea what her answers would be, mom is unpredictable.

“ Ok. Go for it. An entrepreneur, just like your dad.” I was still not sure if she meant it or was she just trying to be sarcastic.

“ Really? It’s a tech startup that makes apps, and I have no idea how it will go.”

“ I think you should go. It’s a great opportunity. Just call me, Okay? I miss you.”

Now when I think about that, my eyes are watered. But I wasn’t when it happened. I guess I was just so excited about the new journey that’s about to begin at that time. People do neglect those kinds of moments in life. We take so many great things for granted.

This is the story of my name. It’s also a miniature of how my parents raised me.

I am writing down these lovely things in my life to celebrate another great year ahead. May every one of you who reads this create more lovely memories with your family in the future.

Happy New Year.