Shakespeare may have expressed in Romeo & Juliet that names are artificial and meaningless compared to the person behind them, but as one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes (also featuring Willy Shakes) suggested, there can be real power in a name.
That’s why I’ve chosen to change mine to Elayna Mae Darcy.
But first, let me share with you the story of how that name came to be.
Growing up, my name was something that never 100% felt like me. I did always like the letter M. I liked that my name was different and had one L instead of two. I liked the Irishness of my dad’s last name. But while I liked all of that, I never felt that I loved my name. All of those things together didn’t feel like they equalled who I really was. The only time I thought it worked remotely well was when people said the full version of it, Michele Elaine Hannon, because Elaine was my favorite part. But growing up, changing it wasn’t an option, so I remained silent, and answered to the name I was given.
Michele was someone who was named after a dad who was never really a part of her life. She was someone who allowed other people to make fun of her, which only added to why she couldn’t stand her name so much. It got to the point where she associated Michele with all the things people thought about Michele; fat, ugly, unwanted, the list could go on. She was someone who could never even settle on a favorite nickname, because no matter how hard she tried to like the variations of Michele (Shell, Shelly, even Meesh) there was something about all these names that just wasn’t her. The names didn’t reflect how she felt about herself, because deep down she wanted desperately to love herself, but the world was so convinced that Michele was not worthy of love. She had convinced herself of it too. So at 14 when she became passionate about writing, she first began to entertain the idea of a pen name.
The one she came up with then was one she discarded quickly, mostly because it was one she came up with only because it sounded pretty. The years went by, and while her name continued to be used against her, she remained silent. Michele was not someone who believed it was worth trying to change. But just before college, with the idea that she could reinvent herself and be called anything she wanted, she revisited the idea, and debated about going into college and introducing herself by her middle name which she’d loved so much. Elaine meant light, and Michele thought that was beautiful.
Whether it was losing her mother and feeling obligated to the name she had left her with, or just a lack of courage, Michele stayed. Sophomore year friends started calling her Meesh, and this, while probably the favorite of all the nicknames she’d been called over the years, still didn’t feel exactly right. College had come and gone and still, Michele was Michele, despite the fact that the name still didn’t suit her. But then she went to Leaky Con, and met someone who would have an impact on her that she could never have anticipated.
Leaky Con was honestly the best week of her life, and there’s a list longer than my arm of why that is. But one of the stand out experiences, was the night that spanned from Thursday into Friday. That was the night of Pizza with Snapes.
Feeling frankly too damn excited to possibly entertain the notion of being unconscious for a few hours, Michele went down to the lobby with her laptop, where she soon encountered a merry gathering of people also there for the convention, three of which were dressed like Professor Snape. As you can assume, there was pizza there too. The good conversations and shenanigans lasted until nearly 5:30am, and it was a brilliant night in many respects, but one of the members of the group shared the story of how he had changed his name, and he said it was one of the best decisions he’d ever made in his life. That statement stayed with Michele for months, and left her once again questioning if she had the guts to change.
As November rolled around, for the second time in 2014, the idea of changing her name was once again at the forefront, as getting back into writing led her back down the road of possibly choosing a pen name. And it was on a late December day of looking into various names that finally, Michele discovered what her name should be.
Elayna Mae Darcy is who I’m supposed to be.
Elayna is really the one piece of my given name that is staying. I always loved that my middle name meant “Light”, so as I change my name, it seems only fitting I should let the light within me shine. The spelling is a little different, but essentially, Elayna is my way of keeping the part of my name that was not only my favorite, but also my mother’s. I think she’d be happy with that.
Mae is actually an Italian name meaning “Mine”, and while I’m not italian in heritage, I loved the idea of not only keeping an M somewhere in my name, but I also felt that by making “Mine” a part of my name, it gives me ownership of the name I picked for myself. I am my own person, and so is my name, and no one can take that away.
Darcy allows me to keep an Irish last name, and allows for a nice contrast to my first name’s meaning, as Darcy means “Dark one” or “Darkness”. That makes my full name mean “Light my dark”, which is something I want my name to do. I want my name to remind me that every moment, I have the power to bring light to the darkness, I have the ability to see the good in the bad, and thus eventually overcome it.
So to all who may be reading this, I am glad to have been able to explain to you why I’m doing something that to you, may seem random, since you’ve not been in my head all these years as I’ve struggled with this. Please remember that while it might be hard for you to adjust to calling me something different, it is equally hard for me to start being called something different than what I have been for the first 24 years of my life. But know that also, every time you say it, my heart fills with so much joy, because I finally feel like I’m being called a name that matches who I am.
So thank you for reading my very first blog post, and may you have a Happy 2015 friends. May it be filled with light.
Elayna Mae Darcy