There are multiple cultural vectors which push people in community to changing their names. One of the more common ones is that we use only first names here so unless you arrive with an odd name (like Paxus or Hawina or Shal) there is some chance you may “have to” change your name to avoid being confused with someone who is already here.
And there are other forces which might be even more compelling. You never really liked the name you were given at birth. You want to take on some larger (River) or more charismatic (Cassandra) or more spiritual persona (Shakti). Or perhaps you want to try something funny (Mario Luigi Andretti) or light (Frolic).
Donna, a new member, arrived and while there was not another member named Donna living here, there was a very significant ex member named Donna who is regularly on campus these days as our general manager of the tofu hut expansion. In part to avoid confusion, but i think more as a personal challenge Donna our new member decided to change her name.
She changed it to Three. I have to say i am quite impressed. It is a strong name. She did not have a naming party, she knew what she wanted. When asked where it comes from, she sited her original soccer jersey number. She is sister number three (by some counts). Three also forms the body of her runner girl tattoo (see picture below) It is a daring name, easy to get mocked. Let’s wish her luck, and welcome her bold choice.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
One curious element of our culture is the ease with which names can be changed. Because we only use our first names, if you arrive and you share a first name with a member, you are encouraged strongly to change your name. Sometimes this does not work especially well, at one point we had a Tom, a Thomas and a Mr Tom. But generally it does.
Brittany had fallen into the trap of most people incorrectly pronouncing her name. She wanted it pronounced with all three syllables. Brit-ten-ney. So she started to tell her friends that she wanted to re-claim all the syllables and thus “change” her name to what she really thought it already was. Brittany is a mostly soft spoken, quirky, character who is widely appreciated and liked – we quickly embraced her desires and shifted our behaviors to state calling her the right thing.