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Thank you all for your advice! I think for now my plan is put Gwen as my middle name and try to make it work that way. I'm going to call myself Gwen to everyone new I meet, but I think it will be easier for my family to call me by the old name.
I don't like my legal name. I am going through the process of changing my name. I don't like my name because of personal associations I have with it and also because my name has an obvious religious connotation and I do not consider myself to be religious anymore. Also, I think that it is really empowering to choose a new name.
Oh my goodness! I'm going through the same things you are! Just this past four months I have changed what I call myself from "Bethany" to "Gwen". I'm doing it for similar reasons. This might seem strange to you but when I am called "Bethany" I feel like a powerless child, but I feel so happy when I am called "Gwen".
Q1: so far I am happy! I really love the name Gwen, I love the way it looks, sounds, and makes me feel empowered. The only time I doubt myself is when my parents attempt to guilt trip me and say things like "I don't know who you are anymore! Why are you being so stubborn! Every Gwen I've met has been an awful person!" And even then, the doubt never lasts for long. I know who I am.
Q2:Nope my parents are not supportive. At all. Well to be fair my Dad seems neutral but is pressuring me because my Mom is upset. I told my family they can call me by my old name to make it easier on them but my Mom won't accept that. She says she won't call me anything. Oh well.
Q3: I think that name change is fine as long as the person gives it thought and choses their new name carefully. I spent months agonizing over what name to choose before I settled on one that I like. I think that when choosing a new name the person should ask themselves if the name will age well with them, if it suits them, how important things like ease of spelling and pronounciation are, if the name is suitable in different contexts. For instance, maybe if someone wanted to change their name to Princess they might realize that that name might not age very well with them specifically, or maybe they wouldn't like having a name like that if they were the CEO of a large company.
Here are a few names I like:
-Analeise (maybe too popular?)
Update on what you end up choosing! I'm super curious!
I've always liked the idea of having a longer name and a nickname to go with it- it's like having formal clothes for formal occassions but comfortable clothes for home if that makes any sense. But hey, you know what suits you better than i do.
I like the name Denise- it sounds so classy to me.
I really love the name Zelda. Although it does have connotations to "Legend of Zelda" the video game.
Maybe Xanthea? (Zan-thee-a) very cool and you do get the option of the the "Thea" nickname. Maybe longer than what you had in mind though.
Hermione- I used to say it as HER MEE ON
Michaela- I have a friend with this name, and although you'd think it's supposed to be MICK KAY LA, it's actually pronounced as Michella
And this technically isn't a mispronounciation, but I have friends who have the name Melanie, Melinda, Melina, and Melissa, respectively. I find it really confusuing so I just call them all Mel.
I really like the names Cecilya, Katarina, and Mariana- in that order. Are nicknames importatant to you? Ask yourself if you also like the common nicknames that come out of these names because in all likelihood that is what you will be called by most of the time.
I really dislike the names Stella because all I can think of is "A Streetcar named desire". And personally, the name Nina makes me think of Nana (Grandma) but not everyone would have that association.
Another thing to keep in mind is the popularity levels of these names around the time you were born and now. If you picked a name and it was totally unheard of/or really common around the time you were born would that bother you?
Anyway, best of luck. I'm trying to pick out a new name too- and it's a tougher decision than I thought it would be!
I think the names Cecilya and Katarina are really good names! A good practice is to imagine yourself in different situations with people using your new name. Ask yourself, would this name sound good in a job interview? Does it have potential nicknames? Is it easy to pronounce and spell?
I think that the name Yelisaveta is a bit hard to figure out how to pronounce although it does seem pretty cool. If you live in a place where people are familiar with how to pronounce this name it could work. Personally, I wouldn't pick this name because in my area it's uncommon so every introduction would take 5 min before the other person could figure out how to say it right.
Why not try to narrow your list down to 3 or 4 and ask some friends or family what first impression they get of the names? Although, pick carefully who you share with... some people can be overbearing with their opinions.