Adjusting to a new name and new identity

My name is Summer — a title I’m proud to wear


Here at the University, I go by­ many names. While professors and faculty refer to me as a strict and arguably-foreign “Madeline,” those who see me as a friend know me as a short, simple and sweet “Maddie.” Throughout my life, I have noticed this strange balance between my alternate titles and how it seems to be the one reliable constant that influences my day-to-day life. 

Strangely enough, I have begun to view myself as two distinct people with two distinct titles: Madeline, the Pseudo-Professional and Avid Academic and Maddie, the Fun-Loving, Painfully-Awkward Friend. The mere mention of one of those names seems to trigger an automatic, uncontrollable response in my personality — I naturally fall into the role and flawlessly act the part.

However, until recently, I had never given much thought to the names I used. After all, humans are not given the opportunity to name themselves — at least, initially speaking — so we are more or less at the mercy of our legal guardians. This is a trivial and insignificant thing to most people, considering names largely become an implicit extension of one’s identity. However this was not the case in my experience, as I found it impossible to relate completely and wholeheartedly to the names I was given. Not only did I dislike the external connotation that seemed to accompany both, but I also felt like I did not fit the part for either.

While “Madeline” is certainly prim and proper, it never accurately reflected the personality nor identify that I have. The same applies for “Maddie” — not only is it admittedly popular nowadays, but it also radiates a persona that I do not relate to. Once I recognized this discontinuity, I searched for quick fixes to perhaps alter my perspective, which never occurred. However, I did discover a single solution — go by my middle name. 

My middle name is Summer. To me, it is not prim and proper. To me, it is not overused and it certainly is not reminiscent of impudence. To me, it emits the persona of simplicity and subtle charm. It is a title that I would be proud to wear. But that realization does not make the transition easier or more straightforward. In fact, if it were not for some stubborn friends, I would never have had the courage to make the leap. Once they discovered my once-silent distaste for my old names, they constantly supported and encouraged the transition. This continued throughout my fourth year and, surprisingly, most of my friends were able to retroactively relearn my name.

If you cross paths with anyone from HRL or my 22 residents, they will all know me as “Summer.”

It is true — while my professors all still know me as “Madeline” and my long-time friends still call me “Maddie,” I am starting a slow transition into a new version of myself. While this name may not be explicitly changing who I am as a person — at least, not yet — it definitely is changing the manner in which I view myself. To me, this seems like the first step in altering my identity. It is intimidating, but also incredibly liberating — as I see it, I have given myself the opportunity to be someone new. 

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