I’ve never really liked my first name. I think it’s boring and short, but as every nun I’ve ever complained to has said, “It’s the name of the Blessed Mother. You should only be so lucky!”

While I respect the biblical origins of Mary, I have always preferred the idea of having another moniker, one that doesn’t mean “sea of bitterness” or “rebelliousness.” Furthermore, having the same name as a woman who got pregnant in her early teens without having sex is especially scary to a chaste seventh grader with an irregular menstruation cycle. My paranoid, younger self even went so far as to buy a pregnancy test.

For the past 21 years, I thought I was destined to be the shepherdess of a little lamb, the mother of baby Jesus or the subject of a Tina Turner song. (I actually have no problem with the latter.) But my  life’s trajectory — or  really  just  my  name — was forever changed a few months ago, when I had to get my  birth certificate for a summer job. I ordered a copy to bring into work because my parents worried that I would lose my passport if they gave it to me – a totally valid concern.

While looking over my birth certificate, I saw my name listed as “Mary Elizabeth Carolan Burgoyne.” I didn’t know Carolan, my mother’s maiden name (pronounced Karlin), was legally a part of my name.

If Carolan were in the mix, that would mean I have two middle names. It wouldn’t be unusual, but my parents are simple people, so I doubted that possibility to be the case. I showed my mother the paper and asked, “What’s my first name?”

“It’s Mary Elizabeth, like it’s always been. You know that.”

World shattered. Game changed. It has not “always been!” I hadn’t been this shocked since discovering my ear lobes were attached to my head during a lab activity my senior year in high school. My name is Mary Elizabeth. It’s a mouthful, yes, but a beautiful, less plain mouthful!

My mom told me I dropped the Elizabeth when I was about six. Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking. Actually, what were my parents thinking, letting a 6-year-old drop half of her interesting, two-part name? My birth certificate thus presented me with two options: Mary or Mary Elizabeth. Mary is the name that brings to mind a modest, shy person, but why couldn’t Mary Elizabeth be some eloquent, charismatic character? I could recreate myself, rebrand, develop a new life to accompany my new name.

So I changed my Facebook  name. That was it. While this one alteration doesn’t seem very dramatic, I have plans for Mary Elizabeth once I graduate. How ironic that I learn my true name right before my senior year. Right before I try to figure out the rest of my unplotted, unplanned future. I’ve decided that after I leave Georgetown, I want to go by Mary Elizabeth. Of course, I’m doing it because I think the name is cooler, but the change reminds me I have choices. Even without Elizabeth, I can still be whomever I want. I can be colorful. I can be bombastic. College will be over soon, but my story won’t, and I’m looking forward to all the options in front of me.

Mary Burgoyne is a senior in the College. ALMOST ADULT appears every other Friday in the guide.

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