Sunday, September 17, 2006

What's in a name?

I've decided to change my name.

This is not a decision I'm taking lightly, or making spontaneously. This is something that I've been mulling over for a few months now. I've spoken to someone who did it herself last year. I've spoken to my family (who all think it's weird, but are supportive of me). From other people, the reactions have ranged from, "Huh, that's interesting," to "Really?!? WHY??" So, why am I doing it?

Well, to start off, it's my last name I'm changing, not my first. I think Elizabeth/Beth/Bethy fits me quite well. And I'm not going crazy with the new last name, I'm actually just changing it back to what it was a few generations ago--Boisvert (for you non-French speakers, it's pronounce bwah- VAIR). So I'm reclaiming that French-Canadian heritage. Although it has been argued that my family has very little, if any, French-Canadian culture left (my ancestor forbade speaking French and pushed for total assimilation into American society), I feel that it's a start to at least have to stop explaining how my last name is really French.

Although my family does not know this yet (though of course they may now), I am also adding my mother's family name, Cates, as a second middle name. I've considered at some point using both (hyphenated or not), but at the moment I'll just revel in having a slightly shorter (though much harder to spell and pronounce) last name.

This was a very interesting summer for me. While not eventful in the traditional sense--my days mostly consisted of babysitting, reading, and working in the library--it was hugely significant to my sense of self. I inadvertently set out on a journey of self-discovery, and whoa, did I discover myself. I'll save all those details for another blog, but suffice to say that by the end of June, I already was feeling not quite like my old self, and by August, I felt like I was just not the same person that had started out 2006. So this is one way to embrace that new self.

Re-naming is not something really new or different or trendy. The Bible places a lot of emphasis on names and naming, and there are quite a few instances of people being given new names at significant points in their lives. Take for example, Abraham and Sarah (formerly Abram and Sarai), Israel (formerly Jacob), and Peter (formerly Simon). There are also many places when God calls a person by his or her name, like he did to Samuel. Think, too, on all the names Isaiah gives to the coming king: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Now, although I am assuredly excited about claiming my new name (though not the paperwork that goes with it), I have moments, too, where I know I will miss my old name, and it certainly will always sound a part of me. But that happens with change, doesn't it? While we may be thrilled and ready to move on to our next place, or challenge, or journey, there is usually a part of us that is saddened at leaving the old behind, for we know we can never it will never be that way again. Even if we go back to visit, even if we are with the same people, life continues to push on, continues moving forward, and nothing is the same.

So even as I embrace my new self, and new name, I also look back on who I have been. I am not so much leaving it behind as packing it up to take with me as I too push on and continue moving forward.

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1 comment:

  1. You didn't tell me you were adding the Cates, loser. But I like it. I am, after all, editor kates. :-)