André

Why I Changed My Name to André

Last summer I started calling myself André. That’s now both my pen name and my nickname in real life. I usually don’t use a last name, but in places where one is required I use André Sólo, which just means “only Andre.”

This is my permanent name now and I’m requesting that friends, readers and family use André going forward.

The name change has been surprisingly difficult. Last time I switched sobriquets was to “Drew” in 2010 or so. People really liked the switch, probably because it’s so informal compared to “Andrew,” my previous preference. (Oddly, I myself never liked Drew very much, as catchy as it is.)

But what really made that name easy was that I switched just as I transitioned to a new job. My new coworkers didn’t know me any other way, so the new name caught on fast. The same has not been true this time around.

The difference is that I’ve built a small amount of fame under my old name, and it’s not easy to shift that momentum to André. Of course, it would have been a lot smarter to make this switch before publishing Lúnasa Days last year, but I was advised against that.

To me, the name André is immensely meaningful. It’s a name that stands for everything I believe in, while emphasizing my pan-American dreams. It may not be what it says on my birth certificate, but it’s for more than just book covers: it’s my stage name, and I live it every day. I use it in person as well as on all my creative work.

So, although I know it’s hard to remember, I hope you’ll all indulge me by using André.

(And don’t worry, I’m not a stickler for the accent mark.)

I’ve already picked up nicknames. Aside from André Sólo, my Mexican friends have now dubbed me simply El André, and radio host Greg Berg took me up on my original naming invitation, consistently calling me André del Mundo. I like both of these, and I welcome other variations.

Of course, I won’t take offense if someone honestly forgets, but I really do only consider André to be my name. And I appreciate it every time someone remembers.

L Days cover_front only_half size

My book Lúnasa Days is available on Kindle and in paperback. Get your copy here.

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9 thoughts on “Why I Changed My Name to André

  1. My mother changed her name when my oldest son was born. She’d spent her life looking for a name that she felt comfortable in. When she went searching for names for grandmothers (because, goodness knows she’s no Granny or Nana), she found Maia and it stuck. Many people struggled with the transition and she was gracious when people forgot. It caught on. It really does suit her. It’ll catch on for you too.

  2. I completely understand. I legally changed my name 3 years ago and most people know me by that, but family and old friends struggle with it. I continue to be gracious but firm around it.
    It is fascinating to me how many of our generation who are spirit workers make the transition to a new, personally appropriate, publicly acknowledged name.

  3. In all things internet but one e-mail address I’m Rua Lupa. In person I’ve gone with my legal name for a very long time and only recently (past year or so) have been going with Rua in person – its different and took me a while just to respond with only Rua when asked my name, instead of both which made it confusing. What has happened is one group of friends I met when I first got here are pretty set on my legal name; all new folks I’ve recently started to get involved with for taking my online work in the field (finally!) know me as Rua. Which makes sense to do because it directly relates to what I’ve been doing online. But when it comes to getting paid I have to tell them to make the cheque out to my legal name and some people find that very off putting – as if I’ve been lying to them all this time. But I’m Not. I’m as much one name as the other and do prefer Rua because it feels more like myself. The name I was given with at birth doesn’t feel right and I consider it more a part of my history. I’ve still made it a habit to use my legal name with the ol’ timer farmers in the area because of the whole trust perception. The most recent adult generations seem to be more comfortable with names that are not your legal one.

    Legal names, in of themselves, have their own dilemmas and internal conflicts in conventional everyday life. Mostly when it comes to last names when married and especially with what to have for children that arise in relationships. Some have went the route of hyphenating, but that causes difficulties in the following generation, resulting in a very long multiple hyphenated last name or a garbled blended last name. I had opted for the conventional route for taking of the spouse’s name. Two main reasons being a) I didn’t want the hassle of queries, especially during the wedding and with my relations it’d continue years and years after, b) I wanted set out on my own without the family sphere of influence that come comes with the name, only to find that the same has happened with this newer last name because of a recognized relation in the area. “Oh you’re a _____ you must be related to ____ ______” The only time I liked that was when it led me to meeting my spouse’s cousin. “Oh, we’ve a _____ here too. Have you two met?” We were volunteering for tree planting the shoreline of a creek and so we already had a lot in common. But because of the recognition, prejudices (because there always will be regardless) can have some doors close, while others may open. I don’t like either of those – I want in on my own merit and it can be frustrating. Being Rua has helped build relationships that I know wouldn’t have been available otherwise. Don’t get me wrong – the family I married into is great and the one who is well known in this area (and is the only family in the area) is because they’ve been a superb Conservation Officer that I admire. But when someone’s family member gets busted by your family member you can get distanced pretty fast. So I’ve been struggling with the whole idea of last names all together and thus I really do like you just going by Andre. It’s free of baggage and you are judged by your own merit, not by who you may be related to.

    • I hadn’t thought of the issue of writing out cheques. (Thankfully I deal with those very, very rarely.) One solution would be to form an LLC under the name Rua Lupa, or even just file a “DBA” as Rua Lupa as a sole proprietorship. Then you could open a bank account under that name and deposit cheques made out to Rua Lupa. The person writing the check wouldn’t need to know it’s a business entity.

      I might do that for André, actually. It would essentially create a legal basis for the name. Although ironically I’ve been considering using my old legal name as my business name for my freelance PR writing work, to keep it separate from my main work.

      With old time farmers… I suspect you could say, “My name is [real name] but my friends call me Rua.” That takes away any hint of deception and the older generations definitely understand nicknames… think of a farmer named Bob who goes by Red. Which is what your name means, anyway :]

      I understand what you mean about biases. But any name comes with them, even (maybe especially) a no-last-name setup, so it’s more about picking which biases you’re willing to live with. I feel like anyone who insists that André is not my “real name” either doesn’t understand what it means to be a creative, doesn’t understand what it means to be an international traveler, or just doesn’t understand me. Thankfully these people have been few in number.

      • First I’ve heard of a LLC or DBA. Are those short for Limited Liability Company and Doing Business As? I’ll definitely look into that. I’m not entirely sure about the, “my friends call me Rua.” bit, because my friends here kind of insist on calling me by my legal name and find it weird because they see it as “giving yourself a nickname” and that should be something that your friends give you, not yourself. *shakes head*. Some have been connecting to me online and thus start seeing Rua more often than hearing the other one and make a smoother transition. I find that people who don’t understand are simply not trying because they are comfortable in their own biases. These tend to be the same people who get the most offended when you point out a flaw in their points of debate – taking it like a personal attack.

        One thing that gets me is at the school the teachers insist on calling me Mrs. ____. I’ve stated that I don’t like Mrs. on the first few occasions, but they insisted to the point that I just ignore it. I honestly find the whole thing ageist and sexist because are a Miss until your a married woman, yet it is always Mr. for boys and men, and there is still the gender divide… ‘Kay, I’m done ranting. :)

        • First I’ve heard of a LLC or DBA. Are those short for Limited Liability Company and Doing Business As?

          Correct. I don’t know how it works in Canada, but in the US you can file a DBA without needing any costly legal work done. You can then go ahead and register with the government for an EIN, basically a taxpayer number, which is in case your business ever hires someone or otherwise needs to pay taxes. It’s free. Once you have these two things you are “official” and can go to a bank credit union and open an account in the business’ name.

          At a school there’s probably not much you can do because the teachers are both trying to reinforce a politeness system for the kids (call adults Mr/Mrs __) and likely following guidelines from their boss as to how to treat parents. However you could tell them it’s Ms., not Mrs…. they would surely respect that?

  4. Pingback: Name Change | Loads of Something

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