Seeking Perspectives from Those Who Have Wanted to Change Their Name, But......

Updated on August 12, 2019
B.F. asks from Newark, DE
15 answers

I know I asked about this subject once before, and hopefully those of you who responded before will again throw in their thoughts--or afterthoughts, especially those with the unusual names!

Since I have always had unusual both first and last names (maiden too). I feel that I have more of a right to want to change one of them. But my first name still bothers me more. It just makes me feel on-the-spot in waiting areas. Embarrassed or annoyed is how it is. I want to come up with a nickname that is similar to my first; especially one that still starts with the same letter sound that I'm used to, but anything I come up with is pretty uncommon too. What a dilemma! THAT is why this whole thing bothers me so much, and I feel justified about it.

So for those in my shoes, has the thought of legally changing your name felt like it would be a slap in your parents' faces if you actually did that? When people ask you what your name is in a more formal setting do you give them your birth name, but tell every one of them that you go by "_____". If you've come up with a nickname for yourself did you feel guilty if it included letters that are not part of your birth name? That could especially apply if you are fortunate enough to come up with a totally different one than what it is. Because both my first and middle names have a limited variety of letters I feel pressed to come up with a totally different name. And wouldn't it be nice to have one of your own choosing!!

So let's hear it, nick-namers. How much liberty did you feel you had to come up with one? Only those who got to choose their own, not have others just start calling you that.

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So What Happened?

Lots of responses. Only some are helpful, really. And some really funny! I think I'll continue to try to come up with something. I have actually done it a few times and different ones. It feels a little funny, yes, but for some reason I feel that as long as it contains letters from my real name or just sounds pretty close I can (righteously) use it. I'm not sure a psychologist would truly understand unless THEY had an unusual name, too, and felt the same way. But really, my entire life this has bothered me. Some of you encouraged me to be different because of my name. Well, not everybody WANTS to stand out from the crowd. It's really not my nature. When I tell most people my name I'm just bracing myself for comments. Most comments are good, but it's hard to feel flattered by them, since I have never felt good about my name. Again, I don't like to stand out from the crowd, especially in a way that I have no choice over.
It may sound off the subject, but you could look at clothes the same way. Some WANT to dress different (maybe loud clothes that are designed like none other) and stand out, drawing stares and second looks--and possibly comments about them. Others just want to fit in, NORMALLY. And that's ME.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Unless it's a situation where my legal name is required, I introduce myself using the name I wish to be called.

8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

do you have to give a whole-hog long-winded over-explanation to everyone who asks your name?

how many people who ask your name are really interested in the convoluted thought process and legal implications?

can't you just decide what you want to go by and stick with that?

then after you've worn it for a while, if it's feeling right, go ahead and change it legally.

i don't get all the guilt over what letters are included or slapping your parents' faces.

you have all the 'liberty' you want to be called whatever you want. no need for anguish and handwringing.


9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have an extremely unusual name AND it isn't spelled in a "normal" way. I'm not sure what the big deal is. No, you don't have "more of a right" to change a name because you have an unusual name - you have the same right as everyone else, no more and no less. And why are you "on the spot" in waiting areas? Do you mean like a clinic lobby where they call your name? I'd be more on the spot if my name was Mary and every time my name was called out, 7 people got up.

Personally, I believe that my name has made me memorable, which, in turn, has helped me with my career. It has been a bonus, not a hindrance. Unless my name translated into some bad word or slur or I was named after some terrible person, I can't imagine hating my name so much that I'd want to change it.

I think that you are WAAAYYYY overthinking this and I wonder if it is your name that you really want to change, or if you have some deeper need for change and rather than address that, you are grasping at this straw.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Have you ever watched "The Dick Van Dyke" show?
The episode I'm thinking of is "Sally is a Girl".

In the show we see Buddy Sorrels wife who is called Pickles.

The dialog:
Ted Harris : "Pickles" - that's an odd name. I never heard anybody called Pickles before.

Pickles Sorrell : Yes, it is a strange name, but you see my real name is Fiona, and at my neighborhood everyone named Fiona is called Pickles.

Ted Harris : Were there many Fionas in your neighborhood?

Pickles Sorrell : Just me.

So you are really only limited by your imagination.
Don't over think it and have fun.

You get to define you.
Whether that means using a name other than the one you were given or making the name you were given mean something (like get famous) - it's up to you to do something with it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Go ahead and change your name if you want. Don’t make a big deal about it with your parents, simply let them continue to call you by the name they gave you at birth. As for the rest of your life, transition to what you now legally are named.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have a friend who came up with a really weird variation (spelling) of her nick name. She spelled it how it sounds phonetically. No one gets it.

She gets really annoyed that no one knows how to pronounce it. No one knows how to spell it.

The worst part is, everyone emphasizes the wrong part so it sounds terrible. It doesn't sound anything like she intended. The older generation I think just thinks she's odd and her parents don't understand. The original nick name was nice. I can't remember why she changed it.

So I think having people try it out, and doing your research first, is a good idea if you come up with your own variation of one.

I go by a nick name and always have - and don't bother to explain to anyone. If I have to use formal (legal) name for documents, I just let them know I go by (used name) and they underline it. I rarely go into explanations. That's maybe once a year? Usually for medical forms.

My siblings and I all have nick-names. It's just common in my family.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I know a lot of people who go by nicknames that are nothing like their actual names. I might feel it would be a slight slap in the face to the parents to legally change ones name, but the parents should have thought that through before saddling the kid with a strange name. The one person I know who did legally change their first name actually only changed the spelling because her parents spelled it so poorly it looked more like it said cyanide rather then Kennedy.

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answers from New York on

I think there are four general “types” of names and I’m not sure which you are thinking of trying.

There are “spiritual” names - “call me Sunbeam”.

There are “preppy” nicknames - “call me Skip”.

There are silly nicknames - “call me Sweet Cheeks”.

There are regular names - “call me Sarah”.

If you want to insist on being called something like Sunbeam, it might be very easy depending on your community group. At least easy to explain, with its spiritual/nature roots, almost like a religious name.

If you want to insist on being called something like Sweet Cheeks, I think you need to really think about how you want to fight that battle. Start by explaining it to close friends or friendly relatives. Be prepared that people might have trouble getting past the silliness.

If you want to insist on being called something like Skip, start by discussing it with good-natured friends, it might not be too difficult to get the ball rolling on people calling you that if you can lean on friends to start.

If you want to change to an entirely different “regular name” - like, your name is Sue but you want to be called Sarah - I think your first conversation about it should be with relatives, if possible with the parents who named you.

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answers from Miami on

I have seen men calling themselves John "Jack" Smith, and going by Jack to people. Their passport says John, credit card, license too, but for everyone else's knowledge and purposes, they know the guy as Jack and that is what they call him (Tony "Skip" Michaels, George "Jim" Brown, etc. are other examples). Sometimes it's a given middle name, like "Michael Anthony" and going by "Tony" or "Anthony", other times it's a name they like, or a name that starts with the same initial of the first name, or just some nickname friends or parents called them as kids. I have a friend named Kenneth that goes by Jack, because his family thought he had a maniacal, weird-looking smile, like Jack Nicholson (his explanation and no, he wasn't offended by that, he actually agreed and was a big Jack Nicholson fan, so he took it as a compliment). He tells people his name is Jack, even though all his documents say Kenneth. No need to overthink it all, just pick something you like and you know you'll stick with! I would personally choose a new nickname versus legally changing documents, which is a pain...calling the DMV, having a new license, new school diplomas, changing email addresses at work, new social security card, new birth certificate, etc., yea, too much paperwork, no thanks!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes Flowercup is a very odd name and I would understand you not wanting to go by that. Not sure what your last name is. Sorry I could not resist.
For real I have a good friend that changed his entire legal name BUT that was after he found his birth mom as a grown adult and changed his first and middle name when he decided to change his last name to his birth mom's last name. (He had a terrible relationship with is adoptive parents that named him) But honestly there is no reason you can just find a nick name and go by it and it doesn't have to be anything remotely close to your actual name. Most job applications now ask for nick name. The only time you should have to use your legal name is if something asks for legal name. But if you honestly can not stand your name change it. Is this something that you have discusses with your parents and your husband if you are married.

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answers from Miami on

Just a funny story (well, funny to me) and not meant to mean anything to your situation... My son had a middle school teacher named Mrs. Butt. The first day of class, she wrote a longgggg name up on the board, with spelling so hard that it was pretty much unpronounceable to the class. Turns out that it was her Polish maiden name. She said that after 30 something years of dealing with that name, she was thrilled to take her husband’s name when she got married. She told my son’s class “Now you can tell everyone that you have a teacher who is a butt.”

We all got a big kick out of that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I have one of the weirdest names.. yet to hear another.. wait I did hear another but only another Individual from my x country ( ussr). It’s hard for Americans to pronounce it.. lived in Brooklyn Ny, and Nj so a lot of Russians there-that’s easy...but when we moved to Florida.. not as many and they butcher my name ( I do not get upset) not sure though if it’s better to be 1 in a million or 50 in a 100 ( like tiffany or Jessica-80s, popular makes)

My last name I kept my x husbands because my maiden is a mile long, impossible to pronounce and repeats each letter almost 2x! Lol

Now if you feel strong about your name, and at work or in a social circle it really bothers you. Maybe giving a nick name with the same 1st initial? Or something that sounds similar?

.. as far as know your parents best.... if they would take it personally and are older and sicker, or more religious and you are named in honor of a passed away relative.. and you still want to change the name ... maybe don’t tell them? Not sure on this one what is best. Maybe talking to a close friend to get a suggestion?!

Lots of luck hun!

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answers from Albany on

It's funny you should ask this question because a friend and two family members have changed or want to change their names. And what they all have in common is that they are not happy in their skin. One is toying with changing her name from Caroline to Poppy of all things! Another changes her name every couple of years (not legally) to variants of her name which is Elizabeth, so Liz, Lizzie, Beth etc.. For me she is the name I have always known her by. And to call her by any other name is strange and bothersome to me and others, I'm sure.
An unusual name makes you original and interesting, especially if it reflects your heritage. How often do we really have to spell our names anyway? And is it such a bother? I would rather be called Carmelita with an abbreviation 'Carmy' for friends than Sue, Joan or Linda any day.
I think you should think long and hard about why you would want to change an aspect of your identity. Maybe even see a psychologist if you feel there is something else going on beneath the surface.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Do it!
I totally get it as I have a name I don't like so when I go somewhere like Starbucks or a restaurant and they call out your name......I use the one I've taken on myself.
It makes me happy and puts me at ease.
My friends that I have had since I was a child totally get why I do this.
Do what makes you comfortable. Why not?
You can legally change your name or just use your nickname you've given yourself when you go to the doctor's office or restaurant.
Start putting your "new name" in parenthesis when you fill out forms.
Doing it this won't have to legally change your name!
Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I honestly like that name Flowercup. Stick with it!

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