I want to change my name, afraid of family's reactions

I'm 17 years old and for as long as I can remember, I've always disliked my name. I'm called Megan, middle name Alexandra. I don't mind Alexandra, but something about being called Megan bothers me. 

I have nothing against the name itself, I have plenty of friends with the same name (which, by the way, is one of my problems with being called Megan, soooo common!). I've just always felt that it doesn't suit me. My mum argues that she thinks it does, but she was the one who chose my name so she's obviously biased. I've also had a hard time with health and school the last couple of years, though I'm doing very well now. I feel like Megan is tied to all that I went through. It has my baggage attatched to it. I've decided now that when I'm 18, before I go to university, I'm changing my name.

I haven't told my parents yet. I'm afraid of their reactions, that they'll take it personally. I'm also dreading having to tell the people I know about the change. They might think it's weird that I'm changing my name, or even refuse to call me it. To make it a bit easier on my parents, I want them to help me choose my new name. I have a few in mind, and I'll go with whichever one they like best. I like each of the ones I've chosen equally, so I don't mind doing this.

So I guess what I'm asking is... how can I bring this up to my parents without offending them, or if that's inevitable, how do I make it easier? Will people find it weird if they find out that I've changed from my birth name? I don't think I'd even feel comfortable being called Megan at all once I legally change it. I figured I'd ask here since this is a naming site and all, and from the other forums I've read, the people here seem really wise. Any advice would be lovely. Thanks :)


February 11, 2016 5:24 PM

Since you don't mind Alexandra, perhaps you can try being M. Alexandra, perhaps using one of its nicknames like Lexi or Xandra or Alex, and see how that goes while you are waiting to turn 18.  You can test the reactions of your family and friends and your own feelings without making any legal changes--and at no cost.  If that doesn't feel like you, then when you turn 18, you can change your name legally to whatever you like.  In the meantime your family and friends will have had a chance to get used to the idea that your name situation is fluid, that you are not going to continue to be Megan, and they may not find it so difficult to adjust to whatever you ultimately choose.

February 12, 2016 4:40 AM

This is great advice. So many names out of Alexandra - heck, evan Andy or Drea. So if you went that way, no cost as Miriam mentioned, and your parents would at least be able to call you by something resembling what they named you.

February 13, 2016 5:53 AM

Miriam has an good suggestion about trying out other names and nicknames first to help everyone adjust. Go at it slowly, see if you can work with the given names you already have first before going with the name change.

It's hard to tell whether your parents will be offended or not if you change your name, and how they will take your well-intentioned offer to help you choose (also, what if you don't like the name they picked out? If you're changing your name, it should be one you love). Have you asked your mom why she named you Megan? The name might have some meaning for her, for example. If you do decide to change your name, I think it's best to talk about it with your parents. If you want to ask for their help, make it clear that it's your choice in the end, not theirs.

If they don't like you changing your name, go on ahead. You're an adult, and you're legally allowed to do what you want with your name.

About your friends and others: I'm not from the US (which is where I assume where you're from), so I don't know how frequently that happens. But about their opinions, don't be afraid to talk to them. If they think it's weird, go and let them (that's their problem, not yours, really). The only opinions you should listen to are legitimate criticisms about your decision to change your name, and the name you have picked out. For example, maybe they see something you don't, like an association you don't know. If your favorite name is Isis and don't know about the terrorist group, a friend pointing that out is a good thing. Of course I exaggerate, but you get my point. :)

If someone refuses to call you by your new name, explain to them that it's important to you. If they refuse, again, that's their issue, not yours. It might be a good idea to think about why they're refusing to respect your decision. E.g., are they just forgetful? (Though they should make it their responsibility to do something about that.) And, just in case there's something else underneath that (e.g., you have a friend who makes fun of you because s/he's a bully, and this is just one of the things s/he targets), whether they're worth keeping as friends. Bottomline is that if it matters to you, they should respect that.

February 26, 2016 1:06 AM

When I was fifteen, I didn't like my name, Kaleigh. People messed it up too much, and I didn't think the meaning, party, suited me. So I changed it to Cat, which to me was short for Catrieona. Some of the personal aspects were still there. My parents named me Kaleigh because it was a form of Catherine, as is Catrieona, but they didn't take it well. 

Basically, you need to hope for the best, but expect the worst. And, if it comes down to it, be okay with your parents refusing to call you that, and having to keep it only at school. That's what I did. 

February 26, 2016 3:57 AM

You've gotten good advice already, saying a lot of what I was going to say!

I think especially want to second the bit about talking to your parents about the reason they picked your name in the first place -- I think that might help you find a good starting off point for finding a new name that honors some of their intent. (For example, I was named after the song Jennifer Juniper. My mother experienced some mild regret about calling me Jennifer when we moved to a country where it was very popular, so she has said that if she could do it over again, she'd have gone for the Juniper part instead... or perhaps she'd have gone with Guinevere or even Gwyneth, all of which preserve different aspects of what drew my parents to my name.)

If you do like Alexandra, I think becoming M. Alexandra is an excellent change you can make right now (and get it on your high school diploma). Lex, X, Xan, Andra, all of the traditional nicknames - the choices are many, and since it's part of the name your parents gave you, they're very unlikely to object, and it might be a much easier sell for them. Whatever you eventually change your name to, I would suggest keeping the Alexandra part intact, and then perhaps your parents can keep using the Alexandra nickname of your choice as your call name, even if they can't quite accept the new name you pick. Another strategy to try to make a smoother transition would be to consider other M-names, if there are any you like.

I teach at a university, and it's not uncommon for students to have a call name they prefer going by that is totally unconnected to the name that shows up on my course roster. It's also something that happened with many friends, right around the same time of life, and many years later they're all still using those names -- some have made the change legally, some just informally. Anyway, that is to say I don't think it's weird, at all. I think you're at a time of life when many people are experimenting with their names and making use of the freedom that comes with moving out and making totally new circles of acquaintance. Even if your parents and high school friends will have a harder adjustment, you will be able to establish yourself under your name of choice with the very large number of people whom you'll be adding to your circles in the years immediately ahead. You may also be heartened to find that in my experience, parents and high school friends can eventually come around, too, especially if there is a meaningful motivating reason behind the name change.

March 23, 2016 7:35 AM

I am going to give you different advice from the others, seeing as most are trying to show you how you can get used to your name or slightly change it...


I myself am changing my name after my eighteenth birthday, (that is my middle and last though, not my first because I'm so used to being "Bree"). I completely understand the baggage of a name you hate. It weighs you down like a bag of bricks. If I were you, I'd say "Go big or go home." Change your name LEGALLY so you don't have to see it on your ID or school cards or anything. Then not to mention you wont have a problem of everyone seeing it and you have to explain why your name isn't Megan but it says Megan and blah blah blah. If not it's just going to get brought up over and over again and you'll still constantly hear "Megan".


As for talking to your parents I'd just bring it up casually through conversation like "Oh yeah, so you know how I don't lIke Megan.. Well I'm gonna change it, would up guys be up for helping me choose?". Don't sit them down and get them all anxious, you'll have a worse reaction because they're tense and enticipating, unless of course your going with the panic plan. Sit them down and get them REALLY freaked out and say that you're pregnant. Give them a second to flip out and say "Just kidding, I'm only changing my name!" That tactic has actually worked before... Just let them know that you NEED change and explain to them that it's nothing against them and it's only how you feel. It's just not right for you. Make sure to tell them why you feel like it's  dragging you down. It might take them a bit to get used to it, but hopefully they'll  have a change of heart.


Good luck!