Learn to love your name: it makes you special


Betti Kobak ’22

Here is a photo of my great grandmother Betty with my grandma and sister. On the table is the ring she used to wear that my grandma gifted to me. Although I never got to meet her, I am so fortunate to be named after her.

Looking back at my childhood, having the same name as a mahjong-playing 80-year-old woman did not always please me. I would look around at the Sarah’s and Rebecca’s around me and wonder why no one else had the same name as me. I always knew my name was unique; however, I never truly appreciated the significance of my name until later on in my life. I regret the shame I used to carry simply because I had a name that no one else possessed. I now realize that that is one of the reasons that makes my name so special and I cherish the questions and curiosity people have about the name Betti. 

I was named after my great-grandmother, Betty. She passed away before I was born, so I never got the chance to meet her. I think part of the reason why I never thought much about my name was because she was never in my life. I would always hear of what an amazing person she was which made me upset that I never was able to meet the woman I was named after. 

My mom decided to spell my name with an “I” at the end instead of a “Y” in order to modernize the name. I never gave my mom enough credit for this, and only recently have I acknowledged this was an insanely cool and original thing to do. I used to look up my name on the Westport Public Schools email and notice I was the only student in the entire school system to have this name. I used to do this for my own amusement; now as I look up my name seven years later, not only am I amused, but I feel one-of-a-kind. 

Realize that your name is what makes you who you are, and nothing should make you feel embarrassed or ashamed of it.

— Betti Kobak ’22

The moment I truly appreciated my name was two summers ago when my grandmother came to my house. She told me she had a gift for me: it was her mother Betty’s old ring. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen: gold with a big silver B on it. I was so honored my grandma gave it to me and it truly made me feel connected to my great grandmother, even though I had never actually met her. It was then that I realized by wearing this ring, I would be honoring her memory, just how my name was doing the same thing for my family who knew and loved Betty. At that moment I had never felt more proud to be named Betti and knew that a part of my great grandmother was still with us with the ring on my finger. 

Since that day two years ago, I have not once taken off the ring. It has become a part of me; something I can look at as a reminder of who I am and who came before me. People often compliment the ring for its beauty and telling them that it is an heirloom of my grandmother I was named after brings me an immense amount of joy. Hearing my grandma tell me I “sound just like Betty” when getting impatient playing board games makes me want to know more about her and our similarities. 

Don’t make the same mistake I made in the past. Realize that your name is what makes you who you are, and nothing should make you feel embarrassed or ashamed of it. I regret not admiring my name as much as I do now, but my profound appreciation now allows me to feel confident and happy with myself.