What Happens When you Publicly Change Your Name?

There are times when people accidentally call you the wrong name, or they call you by your last name because it’s also a first name.

How have you reacted when that happened?

How about what happens when you give yourself, let’s call it a nickname (at work), and people actually call you by that name because you told them to. You told them to do this because there are other people who you work with who have the same first name as you do and they don’t want to be called by a nickname. You choose the nickname as a way to help clear up any confusion in conversation.

Does it depend on how long you’ve been going by said name for? You’ll know based on how natural it feels when you hear or read it within context for the first time.

I did this at two of my jobs.

When there are people shouting out food orders on the line when working at a restaurant and it gets really busy and there’s no time for confusion.

At the other job, I read the nickname I gave myself in an email because part of it was addressed to me.

Within less than two weeks, I decided I didn’t like what I did.

When you publicly change your name and you’ve chosen that identity and someone else is actually calling you by that name, I’ve come to two conclusions:

1. It feels natural.
2. It feels weird…almost as if your identity has been taken away, yet you put yourself in that position willingly.

What were people calling me or referring to me within emails as? My last name: Ryan.

It’s happened before though. People have called me Ryan and it never ever bothered me. My legal first name was not supposed to be Rachel, and the only reason it is, is because my mother was told she better pick a different first name because one person didn’t approve of the other name (no, it wasn’t an immediate family member). To this day, I still tell the story of what it was supposed to be proudly (in-person) because it’s a very unique name and a conversation starter.

Sadly, I guarantee myself had I been given my original birth name, I would have been bullied horribly because it was a very, very different name. I’ve only met two people on this planet with the name I know one girl who has it as her last name, except she spells it differently.

All of this prompted a major subject though: What will I do to my last name when I get married, if I ever do? Will I change my last name? I don’t know. I thought about this today and it dawned on me that I might struggle with this significantly. I know women who are truly madly in love with their partner and they still feel weird being called “Mrs. (fill in blank)” after nearly a decade of marriage.

I didn’t occur to me how they might really feel about this until today.

So weird.

Your name…is your…identity. I guess the bigger question is, is what does identity mean to you?

Stand, but don’t stay in the middle,
Rachel