What’s in a Name?

My name is Annie. It’s always been Annie, it always will be Annie. I wasn’t born Annie, but by 3 it was clear that was my name. My given names have a story… I’m named after people: a good friend of my parents who became the godmother to my four oldest siblings, my mom’s childhood best friend whom she’s still close with, my grandmother… My name has a story and a history, but more than that, my name is me, it’s a part of me, it sounds like me… well… Annie sounds like me. Anne is someone else, and don’t get me started on the rest of it! But while it’s not my given name, it’s not too far a step from my full name to Annie.

While Annie isn’t the most unique name, it’s It’s also not the most common. I have met other Annies, but not many, and even less my own age or generation. These Annies haven’t changed my perception of the name, nor have they tarnished my story.

So why do I bring this up?

Some of you who have been following my blog for a while know that about six years ago I met an amazing man who was named David.I fell in love with him, and a year and a half later we were married. Not long after meeting that man we started having conversations about how he didn’t feel connected to that name.

David wasn’t a name with a story. It was a compromise that neither of his parents either loved or hated. He wasn’t named after anyone and there was no sentimentality to the name. Adding to that, David is a pretty common name, especially among our generation. Off the top of my head I can think of ten different Daves and Davids.

When my husband was about 14 he discovered a name that he actually felt connected with: Malcolm Alexander Xavier. He first wrote some thoughts on his blog about changing his name in 2016.

When we were discussing names with my mother-in-law during our first pregnancy she was surprised to find out that our top boy’s name was Tobias. She said for sure she thought my husband would have picked Malcolm. My husband responded “no, mom, that’s my name.”

It’s been over 20 years since my husband discovered a name that he felt better suited him than the name he was given at birth, and after that long I think it’s safe to say that it’s not a passing phase. Over the past year he began actually experimenting with using this name. He started using Malcolm when we would go to restaurants, I began calling him Malcolm around the house, and a month ago he changed his name on social media and at work to Malcolm Alexander Peralty (I told him I wasn’t going to change my last name again, so he let go of Xavier).

He says that he found the confidence to make the change because of my support and also witnessing other people we know take control of their names. For example, our cousins creating a new last name for their family after they got married. Also, knowing that many members of my family don’t actually go by their first names helped him see that just because it’s written on your birth certificate doesn’t mean it’s written in stone.

I can’t fully understand the choice to completely change names because my name is such a piece of me, but even I have taken some control over my name by choosing Annie over the version of my name that is printed on my birth certificate and by choosing to take my husband’s last name when we got married. Annie Peralty is not the name I was born with but it is who I am. And I can respect that Malcolm Alexander is who my husband is.

So, from now on here on my blog, I’ll be referring to my husband by his preferred name: Malcolm. I hope this transition isn’t too confusing for all of you.

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