I’ve never been a big fan of my first name. It’s so common: Elizabeth. Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, aka Lizzy. Queen Elizabeth – how many now? Beth from Little Women. Lizzy Bruin from The Bernenstein Bears. The actress, Elizabeth Taylor. The name has a lot of flexibility, to be sure – I’ve had many nicknames throughout my life, though my chosen name is Beth. But I’ve heard them all. Liz, Lizzy, Betty, Eliza, Beth, Bethy, Bethany (which is a totally separate name).
I thought a lot about changing my name as a kid. I wanted something unique and exciting – something my friends would be jealous of. Something that would be hard to spell and harder to pronounce. I liked a lot of Disney characters’ names – likely because I loved Disney so much – so I pondered names like “Esmeralda” and “Jasmine”. Then I went through a period of admiring the names of the American Girl Dolls, like “Felicity” and “Josafina”. I went through many phases of what names would suit me better than “Elizabeth”. There had to be something better out there – something that spoke to me being an original person, not just another “Beth” or “Liz”.
Then adulthood came, and a first name wasn’t really a priority anymore. It became more about the last name. I was determined to keep my last name – I don’t see the value in taking your husband’s name. He has his name and you have your name – and what’s in a name? It’s letters on a page. Why go through the trouble of a name change? Social security, driver’s license, insurance cards, credit cards, birthday cards? I guess the birthday cards don’t matter so much, but eventually everyone is going to want to know your new name. And eventually you’ll get tired of receiving mail in your old name.
I changed my last name because my husband’s last name is possibly the best I could ever get. I didn’t change it for him – I changed it for me. I went through the hassle and frustration because I REALLY wanted that name. Sometimes I joke with him that I married him just for the name. It’s only partially true. I never thought I’d give up my last name when I got married – but I just couldn’t let this opportunity slide. If we ever divorce, I’m keeping the name. I’m taking the name to my grave. What’s in a name? Well, I guess it depends on the name. I guess it depends on the person. I guess it’s not really the name that matters, but the person that has that name. So maybe Elizabeth isn’t such a bad name after all.