What’s In a Name

Every year when growing up, my mom made sure that birthdays were a special occasion. My brother and I always got to request either breakfast in bed, or dinner at whatever restaurant we chose. We also got to take that day off from school, which is a tradition I still practice today by refusing to work on my birthday.  I’ve even taken that one step further by choosing to go to a place I’ve never been before on my birthday.  This year it’s going to be Boston (I fly out on the red-eye tonight) for a 4-day weekend, but in the past I’ve hiked through Yosemite National Park, and even taken a one-day flight out & back to Pittsburgh.

But this year’s birthday is super special for another reason.

I’ll be turning 44 on Monday.  Not a noteworthy year to most people, but this is the year that marks a fairly significant point in my life.  Up until the age of 21 or 22 I was known as Anita Chamberlin, but I’ve spent the last 22 years as Alyx Morgan.  The exact date is fuzzy for me, so it’s possible that I’ve already spent one more year of my life as Alyx, but I’m fine calling this the halfway point.

You can check out this blog to get a little insight into why I changed my name so many years ago.

What I found interesting making that switch were the varied responses I received from people around me.  My dad thought I’d done it to get back at him for things in our past.  My brother decided to tag along with that notion out of some misguided sense of solidarity.  I’m sure there were those who thought I was silly for doing it, or maybe looking for attention.  My mom, thankfully, was the one person who wasn’t upset by the change at all, and she’s the one I was worried about most.  She’d named me after someone very special to her, and I didn’t want her to feel badly that I was choosing to be called something else.  But she simply said “I know who you are and who I named you after.  Doesn’t matter to me what you want to call yourself.”

But of all the responses and weird looks I got, my grandmother’s was the funniest of all.  When she found out what I was changing my name to, she said “But Alex is a boy’s name and a Morgan is a type of horse.  Why would you want to call yourself Boy Horse?”  It’s such an absurd response the my friend, Nikki, and I still laugh about it every now and then.

Probably the biggest issue with changing my name is how long it took people who’d known me as Anita to start calling me by my new moniker.  It probably took about two years before people stopped stumbling over the old name to get to the new one.  But that was fine.  It probably took me about that long to get used to being called something else.

What’s even more interesting now, though, is that people who’ve only ever known me as Alyx–upon hearing what I used to be called–always say that I look more like an Alyx than an Anita.  I know that I certainly feel better in this skin, though how much of that comes from changing my name is debatable.  It’s probably more because of the choices I’ve made and adventures I’ve had since I was in my early 20s.  Though, maybe some of the credit does belong to the name change, because who knows if I’d have lived my life the same way had I kept my original name.

Regardless, I’m excited to see what the next few years brings, and to know that, after this year, Alyx Morgan will be the dominant force/name/life for me.  I’m able to appreciate the life I had before as Anita (more so now, than when I was actually living it), but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being Alyx and all the experiences I’ve had since.

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