My New Name
Along with the big (and sudden) move to California, I decided to act upon a desire that I’ve had for some time now; the desire to change my first name.
I’m now introducing myself as River Drum!
I know, weird, right? Or maybe your reaction is more like “WHAT?! WHY on earth would you do that? Isn’t that an insult to your parents who named you? I have known you as Rachel my whole life, I can’t think of you as anything else.”
If you look at this kind of decision as a burden, that’s okay, I understand that. Our culture, like many, puts a lot of weight on our name. I have always found names interesting. Those who know me well can tell you that when I was a kid, I had this random baby names book that I would basically stare at and obsess over, before bed every night, over and over again I would study the names and meanings. I would also practice writing my favorite names in my sketchbook. Most people just thought this meant I was maternal and loved babies.
This is TOTALLY accurate! But there was more to it. I like symbols, meanings, and people. Names are the instant way of attaching meaning to our being, and this is always done once we our born, or soon after, before we have formed our personality. That is, if you believe we form our personality as we grow, but that’s another blog post.
I have always believed we are much more than our name. Some of us are told that we look like our name. Is that true, or do we just emanate a way of being, and then others subconsciously attach a meaning to the name? I have had people who are still getting to know me mistake me as “Rebecca” or “Sarah.” Isn’t that interesting? It’s happened on many occasions, so it’s a pattern. Somehow I give off a first impression that connects them to those names. Or, maybe I just look Jewish. People say “What’s in a name?” It’s true, what IS in a name if one’s parents just pick a name that they like at the time? It is arbitrary for the individual.
I have been wanting to make this change for over a year or so now, and with moving to San Francisco, I figure this is a great opportunity! I just really love the name River, and feel it fits me better. It’s not that I dislike the name Rachel, in fact, those of you who would still like to call me Rachel, you may, I won’t be offended. I recognize that Rachel is how many of you know me, regardless of what my social security card says. I just figure, if I have the opportunity to own my first name, why not take it? It’s a symbol of a fresh start for me out west. It’s exciting to me, I hope you are excited too.
Side note: To any of you who feel aghast that I would “reject” my name given to me at birth. I would ask you to question so many of the women who abandon either partially or totally their maiden name when they marry. The identity shift that happens for women in this position is just accepted as normal and positive. Yet we are still at around 50% divorce rate, so basically there is 1 out of 2 chances that the name she takes, will just end up being potentially awkward, like a bad aftertaste, unless she changes it back to her old name. I’m not making any judgements on women who take their husband’s name, it’s their choice. I’m just pointing out that it’s hypocritical to judge one who makes a conscious choice to change her name as opposed to someone who might do it with less thought because it’s the norm.
For the record, my full name is (will be) River Fister Neff Drum. I’ve kept my maiden name (Drum), and I’ve kept my second middle name which is my mom’s maiden name (Neff). I’ve also changed my middle name from Lynne to Fister, which is my husband’s last name. So, I think I’ve been quite loyal to family heritage. Not that one needs to be, just sayin’.