At birth – my parents named me Rebecca.
Growing up – many people called me Becki.
In high school – I was known as Bekkah.
At sleep away camp – Just Glo.
In College – Some form of Elizabeth, that was me.
Eventually – Professionally, I was Rebecca.
Today – I named myself Elle.
That my friends, is the simple truth. At birth I was named Rebecca, but family and friends called me Becki. Once I got to high school and learned what “Becky” meant, I went by Bekkah at school and at camp and in youth group, I was known as Glo. My early years in college a new friend insisted I did not look like a Rebecca and instead nick named me Elizabeth. Somehow Elizabeth stuck without me even trying, so most of college I was Liz or Lizzie. In the professional world, I decided to leave the casual world of my nicknames and began going by Rebecca.
I have never really felt like my name was mine. For just over 34 years my first name was Rebecca. My legal name evolved a bit as a child because I was partially adopted. At the time of my adoption in addition to having a new last name, we added in a second middle name. The format of my name was my given name, two middle names that were after family members, and my adoptive surname. The name never felt like it was mine and for most of my adult life I have thought back and forth on legally changing my name.
I wanted to change my full name since I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until the last year or so, I thought heavily about changing my first name to Elizabeth. I looked at the meaning and origin of the name, various spellings of it, the translation to Hebrew and what nicknames I could use. Then about 2 or 3 months ago, I thought to myself to use Elle as a nickname for Elizabeth. Instantly I was in love with the name Elle. Elle is short and to my ear sounds so sweet. Elle is from French and means she.
When I thought Elle, my heart whispered a soft yes and my soul stretched throughout the universe. I read up on the name and that it’s becoming more common now a days, but that older folks may find it silly because Elle is a French pronoun, but I didn’t and don’t care. I am a she and Elle is me.
This has been the process that I have been quietly going through. People tend to share judgement without asking and I was afraid if I spoke of it too often then I would jinx myself and it wouldn’t happen. When I filed my petition to the court just a few weeks ago, I could feel the excitement bubbling over within me. I knew I wanted to change my name, but I wasn’t letting myself feel how badly I wanted it. When I filed my petition, I had no choice but to acknowledge the feelings I had been repressing. Tears of joy pooled in my eyes after I completed my steps for my background check to occur. I shared with only 2 friends where I was at in throughout this process. Only they knew when my final hearing was scheduled. I quietly began changing my name on social media and when people asked me my name, I began responding “Elle.”
My final hearing was today. For the last 13 hours and 36 minutes (but who is counting) I have officially been named Elle. When I exited the courtroom, I had to sit for a minute because I was so overcome with emotion that I quietly shed tears of joy.
Life is comprised of moments, some good, some bad, some in between and a few others exceedingly good or bad. Today was full of those exceedingly good moments. The judge granting my name change; the certified copies with my new name and the court official congratulating me; the outpouring of support from friends, family and colleagues; the people who have known me for years already attempting to refer to me as Elle instead of whatever they used to call me; the family members spreading the word that my name is Elle and just the feeling that my name is actually MY name.
The world didn’t stop spinning today when I changed my name, but my heart did smile and my soul did dance. As for me? I wore heels and lipstick, changed my outgoing greeting on my voicemail, took a celebratory selfie and planned a celebratory dinner with friends.
So, hi, my name is Elle, it’s nice to meet you. 🙂