The Daily Post published a post encouraging bloggers to explore the notion of names. When I read this I knew I had to respond as I changed my whole name, legally, by deed poll. I became transfixed on this idea of changing my name from quite a young age. It began when my much older sister introduced us to one of her friends that first did this. The first couple of times we met him he had one name and few months later it was completely different. By this I mean it had no correlation to his previous name at all, forename, middle name and surname all brand spanking new. I must have only been about 13 when the idea came into my head but from then on I knew that the moment I turned 18 I would too change my name by deed poll.
I won’t divulge my previous name, it wasn’t a bad name, nor did I change my name to distance myself from my family/past or anything like that. I just didn’t like it, and without sounding tacky changing it just ‘felt right’. When you think about it, your name is probably the word you hear most, so you have to like hearing it, and frankly I didn’t like how my name sounded.
The hardest part of changing your name is deciding what you’re going to change it too. I guess most ‘normal’ people have an idea of what they want to change it to, however I just knew I wanted to change it. I spent a lot of time looking through baby name lists, popular name lists, unusual name lists and I kept getting drawn to Alexis, because I’m an avid English student and writer and lamely I liked the ‘lexis’ part. But it didn’t sound quite right. I settled on Elexa because I preferred how it sounded, the ‘x’ being the most important bit. I have no idea why but I love the letter ‘x’, also I am not too fond of the letter ‘a’, so I decided to be different and use an ‘e’.
So that was the forename settled I had to decide on a surname. I wasn’t too fussed on this as I am bit of a traditionalist and always plan on taking my husband’s name when I marry (for a sense of unity not because I feel that this is in any way a subservient act), but for now I wanted something that had meaning but also sounded good as a whole. ‘Rose’ is a verb and noun and I love words that have ambiguous meanings and cross grammatical categories. To get really nerdy, my name, Elexa Rose is an example of the shortest, grammatical sentence, object + verb. Plus, it refers to Shakespeare’s quote from Romeo and Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”
A name is simply that, a name. I changed my name for no great philosophical reason other than how it sounded. I don’t believe it changed my identity, because who you are is in your behaviour, in your ideas, not in what people refer to you as – really it is arbitrary. But still I chose to spend £20 on the deedpoll website and a very long time sending copies of the certificate to and from banks, the government, my university, the DVLA. So why bother? Just because I don’t believe your name really shapes your identity, I still believe it has something to do with your character. Just as naming characters in my work I believe to be very important in shaping the character. I like having a name that is memorable, it stands out from the ordinary and many writers and artists publish work under a pseudonym and I think this helps in creating the ‘character’ that is the writer you aim to be. It changes how people first perceive you. Your name is usually the first thing people learn about you, so why not make it an awesome one.
Getting my friends and family to adjust to my new name wasn’t that hard. I did it at the same time as moving to a new city to begin University, new start, new name, so that helped greatly in the transgression. My old friends from childhood still sometimes call me by my old name, which doesn’t bother me hugely, on the whole 90% of the people I talk to call me Elexa or Lexy so the few who can’t quite change over, it doesn’t matter. It feels weird hearing it now though, it’s strange, when I hear my old name it still catches my ear but not in the same way that is used to. It doesn’t feel like my name any more. Elexa comes more naturally now and I definitely prefer it. It took about a year or two to get fully used to it, but to anyone wondering whether or not to make the change, do it, why not. It’s your name, you should be called whatever you want.