Embracing the name ‘Zari’ without being sorry

A student writes why she likes having an uncommon name, despite confusion from others.


I’ve had the same conversation with at least 100 people throughout my life. 

“I’m Zari.”

“It’s OK.”

“No, my name is Zari.”

It isn’t a name you hear every day. I always laugh it off when people think I’m randomly saying “sorry” to them.

I’ve grown to embrace and love my first name, even with the initial confusion from some people, because it helps me stand out right away. The name Zari catches people’s attention, and since I’m a writer, that comes in handy.

My parents found my first and middle name in a baby book at a hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland, after I was born. My older sister, Martha, was named in memory of my dad’s late mom. My parents didn’t have another girl’s name in mind, especially because the doctor couldn’t determine my sex. 

A nurse gave my parents a baby book to help them decide on a name. After flipping through the book for about an hour, they chose Zari Gabrielle Tarazona. 

My dad, Segundo Tarazona, liked the name Zari because he thought it meant “in God is my power.” He said I was a great blessing from God. My mom, Ruth Tarazona, also liked the religious meaning and the way my first and middle name sounded together. 

Much to my surprise, I later found out that in Hebrew the male version of my middle name, Gabriel, means “God’s power.” 

The name Zari has several different meanings, but after searching online for almost an hour I couldn’t find any that related to God. I told my mom over FaceTime and she laughed for a long time and then just shrugged her shoulders. 

My parents got it mixed up, but I think it’s sweet how happy they were that they chose a name with such an emotional meaning. There was so much I didn’t know about the process they went through choosing my name until I asked them about it last week. 

If I decide to have a kid, I want to pick an uncommon name that means something to me and whoever I’m with, like my parents did when they read that baby book together. 

I wasn’t always an advocate for my name. It was difficult to handle when I was younger because I was so shy and hated correcting people when they completely butchered my name or thought I was apologizing.  

My Twitter handle is my witty way of embracing the confusion.

Now that I’m older, I love that people aren’t as familiar with my name. I’m graduating in Spring 2019 and am in the midst of applying to journalism internships, fellowships and jobs. I hope my name sticks out among the thousands of resumes and cover letters. 

My goal is for more people to become familiar with my name, even if they don’t know what to make of it at first. 


  1. I just found this article.. I named my daughter Zari as well. My husband and I always joke that when we call out to her it’s sounds like ‘sorry’… Our Alexa also calls her ‘sorry’. Thank you for sharing!

  2. My daughter is 9, and Zari is her name. Yes- sorry is used by accident all the time. It was awesome to hear an adult perspective. I read this to her.
    Thanks for sharing!

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