I Don’t Know My Name – Grace VanderWaal

I don’t know my name
I don’t play by the rules of the game
So you say I’m just trying, just trying

So I heard you are my sister’s friend
You get along quite nicely
You ask me why I cut my hair
And changed myself completely

I don’t know my name
I don’t play by the rules of the game
So you say I’m just trying, just trying

I went from bland and popular
To joining the marching band
I made the closest friends
I’ll ever have in my lifetime

I am lost, trying to get found
In an ocean of people

Please don’t ask me any questions
There won’t be a valid answer
I’ll just say that
I don’t know my name
I don’t play by the rules of the game
So you say I’m just trying, just trying

I now know my name
I don’t play by the rules of the game
So you say, I’m not trying
But I’m trying, to find my way

Grace VanderWaal

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How I see this song:

I don’t know my name

Name is like the basic identity everyone has in their lives. By saying this on the first line, it implies that Grace doesn’t have idea about who she is.  She is in a very deep confusion about her existence in the world.

I don’t play by the rules of the game

This line states how she struggles to express herself in the midst of social expectation. She feels tired of pleasing people and ignoring her own happiness, the battle of many adolescents lies between attempting to please their parents, being good at school, maintaining relationship, and all while trying to be authentic.

So you say I’m just trying, just trying

She asks for apology if the people in her surrounding get her wrong and think she rebels upon what has been settled in the social condition. She wants to say she is trying to find the middle way between being herself and being what’s expected by people.

So I heard you are my sister’s friend
You get along quite nicely

For Grace, her sister is someone that pretty much understand about her way of thinking. When the person could get along with her sister, Grace expects that person could get along with her too.

You ask me why I cut my hair
And changed myself completely

Cutting hair is often seen as a form of defining new identity, with hair is sometimes adopted as metaphors of self-expression and freedom. Her sister’s friend finds it strange to see Grace’s way of expressing herself. But this is just how Grace reacts to social expectation.

So you say I’m just trying, just trying

For the people that don’t really understand her view will just say “try to adjust with that condition”, something that Grace doesn’t really agree.

I went from bland and popular
To joining the marching band

This line, Grace is trying to tell her sister’s friend about her journey of trying to be “fit” in society. Marching band is considered a cool community among teens. Also, Marching band community is popular with its strong bond among the member.

I made the closest friends
I’ll ever have in my lifetime

She is saying that,by joining the marching band she made new people and some of the become her closest friends. The intensity of meeting same people creates her new close circle.

I am lost, trying to get found
In an ocean of people

But even though she has more friends now, but she feels herself lost in the crowd of people. People with the values they hold confuses Grace to pick which one is right. The influence of people around her slowly changes her perspective, and at some point, makes her forget her identity. Having more friends is not always right, if that means you have to always adjust yourself to them and gradually forget your own self.

Please don’t ask me any questions
There won’t be a valid answer

She’s refusing to listen to people’s questions about who she is and who she’s supposed to be, interrupting them and telling them what she has to say, instead.

I now know my name
I don’t play by the rules of the game

Grace now wants to be able to make statement about who she wants herself to be. She wants to stop being a “Yes man”, and define her path in life. She refuses to just accept the social construction about norms without having second thought about it.

So you say, I’m not trying
But I’m trying, to find my way

The journey to find her identity may seem aimless, but she can only be herself when she’s not playing by the rules, not conforming to societal norms.

Others may think she’s not trying to accept and learn social norms. However, she assures us she’s on the right path to self-discovery.

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