If I had been born a boy, my name would be Anthony. I’m not particularly fond of the name, but I imagine Tony would’ve suited me fine. I once had a crush on a boy named Tony in high school. His name matched his friendly, brown eyes. He was an artist. Sometimes, when class dismissed, he’d give me his drawings.
I wasn’t born first. Jennifer, my twin sister, was born five minutes earlier. Nicolas was her boy’s name. If I were born first, and a boy, I’d tell people to call me Nico.
My name was Rebecca for the two, short beginning hours of my life. Then, my parents decided they didn’t like the sound of Becky.
Growing up, I sometimes imagined my alternative Rebecca life. Rebecca’s hair was curly, not stick-straight like mine. She had freckles. My favorite and prettiest dolls were named Rebecca, after my first true name.
My childhood name was Debbie. My father, and friends who haven’t seen me for years, still call me Debbie. I liked Debbie well enough. I liked that I didn’t meet too many others with my name. Jennifer had no such luck. I longed to be an original like the boy in my grade school whose name was Yarrow. His father was a botanist.
I was never really teased because of my name. Some of the boys snickered and made harmless jokes when they found Little Debbie snacks in their lunch boxes, but it never bothered me. My biggest struggle was writing my name in cursive. I could never make the D look grand enough. It was always too fat or flat or floppy.
Deborah is my adult name. But, I chose it when I was young and impressionable. Changing my name to Deborah corresponded with leaving my childhood home. After meeting the sophisticated and intellectual Deborah Diamond in my freshman college dorm, I decided to change my name. The new uncertainty and insecurities I was met with at college told me that changing my name would make me confident. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I introduced myself as Deborah, but for a long time, it felt like a fib. Inside, I was still Debbie.
I don’t remember when exactly, but I did grow into my name. Similarly, I have also come to love my name. Sometimes, when I hear my name, I find myself smiling because I think that it sounds beautiful.