Hello, my name is….

I was born with the name Rebecca Suzanne Levine.  I was given that name, it was put on my birth certificate and, from that day forward, I was called "Becky." 

Never Rebecca.  Not even when mom or dad got furious with me.  Not even in jest.  The only other thing that had "Rebecca" on it, other than my birth certificate, was my drivers license. And Suzanne part was something that probably only my immediate family remembers.

My life of duality began when I went to college.  I applied to college with my legal name.  I ended up attending a large Big 10 school in the Midwest and my freshmen year class sizes were large.  So when roll call happened on that first day of class I was introduced as "Rebecca" and, being a newly independent college student, fresh start in life, 1,000 miles from home, I thought I’d give my "other name" a try.  Possibly "grow up" and convert to Rebecca. 

That didn’t really work.  My soccer team in college all called me "Becky".  People who got to know me well soon figured out through voice mail on the dorm room phone or letters and packages addressed to me that I was called "Becky" everywhere else in my life.  And some people just said, "you don’t seem like a Rebecca. Do you go by Becky?" (it actually still freaks me out when people say that).  So, I went through college with some people knowing me as "Rebecca" the Computer Science major, or "Rebecca" from literature class and others from the dorm or soccer team calling me "Becky".  It would always get the most confusing when the two worlds would occasionally collide and the "Rebecca" people felt like I had betrayed them by allowing them to call me the "wrong name".

This continued on in my professional life when I applied for jobs, again with my legal name.  I landed at work as "Rebecca" and felt that, as a professional, "Rebecca" deserved another try.  Maybe as a "real working person" I would feel more connected with "Rebecca".  Inevitably, the same thing that happened in college happened in my "professional life" only it was weirder because there is always something weird about work relationships and crossing boundaries and stupid stuff like that.  It hit new levels of confusing when some people tried to distinguish themselves from the Rebecca/Becky choice and decided to give me their own name, "I have a friend that calls herself Rebbie and you remind me of her – so can I just call you Rebbie?"

However, after 8 years at the same company I felt like, despite all the confusion, I had firmly established myself as "Rebecca Levine" and the world was clear to me: "Rebecca" at work, "Becky" outside, except if you know me from college classes or through someone that I work with.  Doesn’t sound simple but it was a great way to group people in my mind.  Kind of like how I know when I’m getting a solicitation call and they ask for "Rebecca Le Vine" instead of "Rebecca Le Veen".

Then, I got married. 

And I took my partner’s last name. 

This is when my identity crisis started taking shape.

I’m against hyphenating and it was important to me to keep my maiden name in my identity.  So I ditched Suzanne and my new name became Rebecca Levine Pezely.  This really f’d things up for me for two reasons: (1) it’s hard to just change your name after 30 years and embrace and accept it and (2) I had done a lot of good hard work as "Rebecca Levine" and wanted people who knew me from my past efforts to be able to find me the way they knew me.  So I put my whole name out there so people searching for the "Rebecca Levine" me could find me and the new "Rebecca Pezely" me could evolve.  I tried emphasizing this by putting "Rebecca Pezely" in my email signature.  This backfired in the sense that people were now totally confused about what to call me and resorted to calling me "Rebecca Levine Pezely" (which drives me crazy and I hate correcting people on it).  And the "Becky" thing still happens so I now have a ridiculous list of possible identities:

  • Becky Levine
  • Becky Pezely
  • Rebecca Levine
  • Rebecca Pezely
  • Rebecca Levine Pezely

It’s really too many.

Everything changed today when I lost my badge.  I went to security to get a new one and the guy asked me, "what name do you want on the badge? Do you want just Rebecca?"  Until that moment, I hadn’t been thinking about it and all it took was that questions.  Before I knew it I said please put "Becky Pezely."  So there it is.  "Becky Pezely" is now on my badge.  I’m now slightly regretful that I didn’t go with something cooler like "Princess" but this is a good start.  I’m hoping this one sticks.

Hello, my name is Becky Pezely.


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