Thoughts on a Name Change
When I was a kid, people called me Danny. When I got to college I took the opportunity to upgrade to Dan. But for a long time now I’ve deep down wanted to go by my full name, Daniel. Several weeks ago I decided to make it public. I posted this on Twitter:
For a long time now — years really — I’ve wanted to go by my full name but it just never seems to stick. So, at any rate, I’m giving it a good college effort.
My name is Daniel.
Nice to meet you.
— Daniel DeWitt (@DanDeWitt) December 29, 2021
I knew most would be kind. I knew a few would give me a hard time. I knew some might even, as some have, be a little perplexed. Why make a change at the ripe age of forty-five?
Well, I know it will be hard for people to adjust. But that’s part of it really. I think I’ve delayed because I don’t want to inconvenience people. My name is “Dan” in most places. I’ve published under this name. My social media is all under this name. My business cards are all in this name. Why bother?
I think, in part, it’s because it’s bothered me. I like my full name. Daniel comes from two Hebrew words “din” to judge, and “el” for God, meaning, “God is my judge.” The part of my name that gets cut off when I go by Dan is the “el” the bit that points to God. I’m not saying that people should not go by Dan if their name is Daniel. It has just become something I have cared more about and thought more about as I’ve gotten older. And I have gotten older. Maybe that’s a big reason too.
A wise person once said, “When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.” There’s truth here, even if overstated. Even more, there’s liberation here. As we age we contemplate what matters. And for me, my name matters. God is my judge. But that also reminds me of the words of Trip Lee, “If only God can judge me, what lawyer gonna take me on?”
These are soul probing questions. They make me stop and think. My name does that for me. It makes me stop and think about God. In that way, I don’t know that trying to move back to my birth name is a result of not caring what others think about me as much as it is of reminding myself about what God thinks about me.
I’ve had friends ask for a the reasoning behind the desired name change. The truth is, I’m not changing my name. It’s more like it has been changed for me by others over years. I was born Daniel. And I like that.