Butterfly: A Teenager Finds Transformation In Her Name

Apr 11, 2019

Our names - whether given or chosen - tell the world who we are. Today's youth radio producer Alex Folker from Stivers School of the Arts says that she changed her life simply by changing her name.

Writing is really a passion of mine. I kind of have this system in the way that I write that I'm really picky about because I don't like people messing with it. I guess I'm pretty stubborn.

When it comes to activities at my school, I'm not too open or outgoing about them. I haven't done a whole lot of things. I wrestled my sophomore year. If I'm not at school or home, I'm working. I don't really have too much of a choice. I kind of provide for myself as an adult.

I haven't exactly had the best life. I was born to a mom who had me too young. She was 16, barely even about to turn 17. My father was 19 years old, and they were just young stupid kids. Both of my parents were addicts while I was growing up and my mother now even still. Eventually that kind of lifestyle took my father's life when I was 15, and things have never been the same.

Growing up, I always felt like something was off, but I never would have imagined that had to do with my name, which was something somebody else had given to me.

I think I was probably about 11 or 12 when I actually decided to go by the nickname Kat more permanently. I went by the nickname Kat that two of my other friends had given me. You know, we decided we wanted to be nicknamed after candy bars. We wanted to be cool. They were actually twins and one of them was Snickers. The other was Hershey's, and ironically I was the limited edition Halloween white chocolate KitKat because of course you're going to name the white person after a white candy.

To me it felt like an injury if somebody called me by my birth name, and going by Kat was kind of this band-aid that hid the pain for a while, that placebo effect. Going by a different name was more like about running towards my true self and discovering that person buried underneath all the rubble and the sadness of my life rather than running away from some terrible past.

When I got older, 17 or so, was when I decided to go by Alex. I had this great realization that I was searching for the real me the entire time during the biggest hardships I've had to deal with in my life. Finding myself as Alex was like opening the floodgates. I went from being that timid, shy and slightly opinionated girl to full fledged badass who had opinions and wanted to actually be something when it comes to my plans after high school.

My plans are to go into the Marines, go to college, legally change my name to Alex, and that's who I'm going to be for the rest of my life. This is a secret, but my ultimate goal is really to destroy the dark web and be the best hacker on the planet, you know with a bunch of bestselling books and famous poems, but that's a long way away.

In the end it's you who makes the important decisions about yourself. The flower that ensures the hardest winters is a product of its environment. It shows just how strong and hearty you truly are. 

Alex Folker is a student at Stivers School for the Arts. Special thanks Leslie Rogers and Eva Maksutis of the Creative Writing Magnet. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.stivers.org/ Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.