I never identified with the name Jessica in its solidarity.
It's weird how one word can sit so strangely with you, but when people call me Jessica it feels foreign. It's like they don't know me at all, or have just called out to a stranger.
As a child I went by the name Jessie, a cute nickname for a messy bush child with tangled hair. I carried it through my primary school years and grew rather fond of this name. That is until I started high school and decided it was time to grow up and be a big kid now.
I remember the day my mum asked me what I wanted my name to be enrolled as in my new high school. Jessie or Jess? It was a no brainier for me; new school, new (older) me. I definitely wanted to be known as Jess from here on in.
I love the name Jess. To me it feels like an old friend.
Like a worn in pair of shoes that has stood the test of time and still fit you perfectly. The lovable and dependable name that has carried me through my adolescence and early 20’s to this very moment.
People always loved the sound of my last name Bartholomew, they thought it sounded so exotic (no way near as exotic as its un-anglicised variation).
When they asked me where it came from, I would tell them the origin story of my late grandfather Vilmos Bartholovics, a Hungarian migrant. A hero in my eyes who escaped war torn Hungary during the Russian occupation. Selflessly saving for years to bring the rest of his family over to start a new life with him in Australia.
Bartholomew was always such a mouthful. I still go on autopilot and spell it out any time someone asks me what my last name is.
Even though Bartholomew is not the original name of my blood family, I have grown to love the name. To me it represents hope and the chance of a new start, of letting go of tradition and the past, and stepping fully into the future.
It also represents a strong line of feminine leadership, only carried on by the women in my family. My mother and her 2 sisters (before they married), as well as my sister and myself.
When people asked me about my middle name growing up, I would tell them it's like Karly with a silent R. I didn't want to be different back then, in fact I did whatever it took to fit in.
One of my best friends in primary school was called Carley, so I decided then and there that this would be how my middle name was pronounced if anyone asked.
I never really appreciated the name Kali until about 2 years ago.
I mean you try explaining to your classmates that you're named after the Hindu goddess of death and destruction.
The desire to be accepted had me reject my own name, a name I now feel deeply connected to, all because I didn't want to stand out. You'd be surprised how much of a hot topic middle names were in primary school!
Nowadays every second child has a unique name, but this wasn't the case during my childhood. The only kids who had unique names were the children of hippies, and back then I wasn't particularly interested in being thrown into this category. I just wanted to fit in.
Jessica Kali. In its entirety it rolls off the tongue and feels complete to me. It is a name I can relate to, a name I can stand proud in. To me it represents divine feminine strength and a commitment to truth that is unwavering.
Only now am I beginning to see the true significance of this name my mother gave me.
My mother the eternal hippie, the determined activist, the wise witch. My mother with her intuitive heart, was guided to the very name that would align so perfectly with the blueprint of my soul. Could she really have known back then the path I was destined to walk in this lifetime?
I no longer hide from my true name. I'm not afraid to be different or to stand out, in fact I welcome it now. I will never again have the opportunity to walk this very path, to truly know myself in this particular lifetime.
I still go by the name of Jess, Jessie and Jessica Bartholomew.
But I AM Jessica Kali.