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What’s in a name?

February 17, 2011

I still have my diary that I started when I was eleven years old. It’s horribly embarrassing and perfect for you all to make fun of me if I was ever brave enough to post an entry from it. I kept the same one from the time I was eleven to when I turned sixteen. Surprisingly, (or maybe not really that surprising to those who know me in real life) my maturity levels are hardly different in those five years. I just seem to switch focus from things like… starting my own club to boys.  It’s all written in the same tone. The tone that indicates that I will die if what I want to happen does not happen in the next thirty seconds. You know, the reasonable tone.

I randomly stumbled on it the other day while in search for some socks and took a second just to see what 11-year-old Whitney had to say. Turns out 11-year-old Whitney had decided that she did not like her name and would be changing it to Lex. In fact, she was so serious about the name change she declared that should would ONLY sign her diary entries with the name Lex. Because that’s not odd or anything… While I was letting the fact that I possibly had a personality disorder as a small child marinate in my brain, I suddenly remembered that this wasn’t the only time I wanted a name change. In fact, this whole thing was a recurring theme for the first 12 years of my life.

When I was in 2nd grade , I started signing all my papers with “Whitney Marion.” (Marion is my middle name. Just… shut up. I know.) When my teacher asked me why the sudden change, I informed her that that was how my name was always meant to be. That I, yes, was a lucky recipient of the double name. Not unlike the billionaire Mary Kate Olsen. (I’m sure I didn’t use this example because it was 1987, but you get my point.) My teacher, being a friend of the family, knew this to be untrue but instead just let me keep doing it because what was it hurting? (Ohhh, no biggie. Just giving me the idea that changing my name at the drop of a hat was acceptable, that’s all.) So for the entire school year I signed every paper with both my first and middle name and proudly explained to any friend who would ask, “Oh yes, it’s supposed to be this way.” *Sigh… Seven year old Whitney is a liar… She knew that her mother never once intended her to go by Whitney Marion except for when she was in trouble.

Let’s fast forward to fifth grade in Mrs. Clem’s class… I specifically remember standing in line to go outside for recess when I piped up to the kid in front of me, “I’m changing my name to Alexandra the day I turn 18 but you guys can go ahead and start calling me that now.” Why did I decide this, you ask? Well, friends, I have no idea. Apparently, I’d outgrown Whitney Marion and it was time for something more…sophisticated. My classmates, I’m sure, looked at me like I was insane but I held my ground. For that entire day I did not answer to anything but Alexandra. Which goes to say, I didn’t answer to anything because nobody was calling me Alexandra.

I really don’t know where my obsession with changing my name came from or why I was so unhappy with Whitney. It could’ve been the fact that every single person I met would always meet my introduction with, “Like Whitney Houston?” Although, back then she had yet to go crazy and was at the height of her “How Do I Know?” phase so one would’ve thought I would’ve promptly replied, “Exactly like that.

That would’ve been a lot cooler.

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