Your Name Changes Who You Are

Alec Zaffiro
4 min readJun 24, 2018


Picture in my room.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this framed canvas hoisted up in my bedroom; it was given to me as a child. I couldn’t tell you who made it or where it came from, but it reads the following message about my name:

Alexander—helper of mankind

Expression: loves to keep everyone laughing

Personality: one who stays composed

Natural: he makes great things out of odds and ends

Emotional: takes the time to love

Character: man who has his own uniqueness and character

Physical: an individual with standards

Mental: learns from others’ good ideas and wisdom

Motivation: loves the challenge of the unknown

I’ve spent an unnecessarily large amount of time reading over this throughout the years. Well come to think of it, I couldn’t even read at all when I first got it — it actually confused me as a young boy. I had no social awareness. I didn’t think in terms of personal values or motivations. I had little perspective:

I didn’t understand words like composed, standards, and wisdom. And love? Hell no.

I remember coming back to the picture again and again, gradually understanding more each time. Upon adolescence, I started to feel some association with the words. “You know, Alexander, must mean these things” I told myself. I was proud to be aligned with the photo.

But maybe it was all in my head.

What if I was being lied to?


Later on in life, I worried about the picture’s authenticity. What if the manufacturers just printed the same damn thing for every John, Michael, and Brennan? What if the words meant nothing to me specifically?

What if I wasn’t special at all?!

Ah, this is one of the ironic things about growing up. As kids, we can’t wait to become divine adults. Oh, we can’t wait for the control, the freedom, the ability to finally see the big picture.. we can’t wait to know everything!”

As a child, the picture made me feel empowered. As an adult, the picture made me skeptical.

“Awareness” is both a gift and a curse. While it’s nice to have a grasp on reality and how our society / economy really works and operates, at the same time, we softly chip away at our ambition and imagination. In other words, we gradually become more grounded…

So, I stopped believing in the picture for a while.

I was too worried it was fake or just a manufactured commodity, designed to make anyone and everyone with a name feel special. I wasn’t havin’ it.


Today, at 22 years old, my perspective on this “godsend” picture continues to change and evolve. I get it now. I understand it, line by line. I realize how each trait is a manifestation of the soul—each saying subtle, yet equally powerful.

Funny though. Just a few years ago (as a naive teenager), I thought this:

Screw the picture it means nothing idiots can’t fool me! It’s called a logical fallacy, I learned about it 10th grade English, bro. Affirming the consequent.

“Oh my driveway is wet? Must be raining.”

Same thing.

“Oh this picture’s in my room? Must be me.”

I thought I was clever, like I had discovered the “loophole” after all this time growing up. I didn’t think it was cool to believe or trust in something frivolous, such as a picture on the wall, without any evidence of it being true.

It’s funny how we change.

Now, I’ve taken on a new attitude; one that understands what’s real, but still defies skepticism in order to better serve my mental health and well-being. Fancy, huh? In simple(r) terms, I’ve re-calibrated my outlook.

Is the picture real or fake? Who cares. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is how I frame the information.

Does it really do me any good to assume a negative hypothetical view?

No… (although it could be true).

The best thing for me? 100% trust and believe in the photo.

It leads me to a happy, healthy life.

Full Circle

What happens when I keep an open mind about the cornerstone picture? I’ll tell you: everything comes full circle. I return to my boyish, whimsical ways of feeling empowered about the world around me.

I own the picture.

Believing in the words is the only way to actually live up to the statements.

“Helper of mankind.”

I’ll take it.

- AZ



Alec Zaffiro

I write to think and organize my ideas. I like psychology, philosophy, and self-improvement—em dashes are my specialty. Not an expert.*