William Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And yet, many of us are fiercely protective of our names; we take offense when people mispronounce or misspell them. Our names are who we are and how we are known in the world. Soon-to-be parents often spend a lot of time and energy deciding on a name for their child, potentially exploring religious or familial connections. Names follow certain trends, going through phases of popularity and switching from traditionally male names to traditionally female ones.
My name is Kira, which is a pretty unusual name. I never could find it printed on keychains or other souvenir paraphernalia alongside the Laurens and the Sarahs. When my parents were expecting my arrival, they wanted a name that started with a ‘K’ since they are Karen and Ken, but they were also looking for something different. A young woman in the neighborhood happened to be named Kira, and it piqued their interest. Ayn Rand’s first novel “We the Living” also features a female protagonist named Kira.
The Anglicized name Kira can be traced back to a number of different languages including Greek, Russian, Gaelic, and Japanese and might also be a feminine version of the Sanskrit name “Kiran” which means “beam of light.” Whatever its origin, as I have grown up, I’ve come to embrace having an unusual name.