Home Leisure & Lifestyle From the Cocoon of ‘White’: What Changing My Name Means to Me

From the Cocoon of ‘White’: What Changing My Name Means to Me

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When I was born, my parents named me White. An unusual name, admittedly, but it was a tribute to my grandmother, a woman of strength and grace, whose last name was White. Growing up with this distinctive name wasn’t always easy. In school, it was often a source of confusion and amusement. I could fill a book with the countless jokes, puns, and misunderstandings that accompanied it.

But the peculiarity of my name also brought an unexpected advantage. It was a conversation starter, a unique identifier, and a constant reminder of the legacy I carried. It embodied my grandmother’s spirit, and I wore it proudly, despite the oddities it imposed.

Yet as I traversed through life’s twisting avenues, I began to perceive my name differently. No longer did it feel like the mantle of honour from my grandmother; it began to feel like a barrier, hindering my ability to define my own identity. The burden of the legacy, the constant need to explain, and the desire to escape the shadow of the expected norms that came with it, made me question my connection with my name.

The decision to change my name wasn’t sudden. It was a gradual realisation that bloomed over years of introspection. The first spark ignited during a summer camp when I was a teenager. A simple ice-breaker activity asked us to choose a new name for the day. I chose the name “Evan”. For the rest of that day, I was Evan, free from the preconceived notions that came with “White”. It was a liberating experience and my first taste of the freedom that a name change could provide.

At university, as a sociology major, I delved deeper into the societal implications of names, identity, and self-perception. My academic pursuits added another layer to my personal musings. It wasn’t just about me or my struggles with my name; it was about the universal human need to define one’s own identity. It was about choosing the name that resonated with my true self, not the one assigned by the circumstances of my birth.

The final straw was an incident at a job interview, where my qualifications were overshadowed by the curiosity about my name. The interviewer seemed more interested in the story behind “White” than my capabilities as a potential employee. It was frustrating, to say the least. That’s when I knew it was time.

The journey to “Evan” wasn’t easy. There were legal hoops to jump through, documents to change, and a lifetime of associations to recalibrate. The hardest part was explaining my decision to my family. To them, I was breaking away from a cherished tradition. There were tears, heated discussions, and even moments of doubt. But ultimately, they understood my need for self-assertion and gave me their blessing.

Today, as Evan, I feel like a butterfly that has finally emerged from its cocoon. The name change doesn’t erase my past or my respect for my grandmother’s legacy. Instead, it allows me to carry that legacy in a way that feels authentic to me. It provides me with the freedom to shape my own identity, separate from the societal expectations attached to “White”.

Changing my name to Evan was a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and assertion. It taught me that our names, while a crucial part of our identity, are not its entirety. We are more than the labels assigned to us at birth. We have the power to redefine ourselves, to choose our identity, and to step out of the shadows of expectations.

In the end, I am more than White. I am more than Evan. I am me.


Evan Alexander is a sociology enthusiast turned writer, and a believer in the power of self-identity.

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