What’s in a name?

Have you heard the stories of how former slaves chose their name once freed? Or the Biblical stories of Sarai to Sarah, Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter? All stories of new destiny and God’s promise to each one.

Let me tell you the story of my name.

At birth, I was given carefully chosen, beautiful names punctuated by my father’s surname. I grew up as a girl with that name: a girl who never quite fit in, who never felt pretty, who was seen and not heard; a girl lovingly sheltered, who spoke when spoken to, whose booksmarts were her worth.

College was a whirlwind of losing that girl to bad decisions, common sense be damned, and a puppy love romance that yielded a pregnancy shortly after graduation. We foolishly married “for the baby” and I took my husband’s name.

I gave it back.

Constantly seeking validation, I cycled through destructive, abusive relationships, hiding my pain and failures behind degrees, pretty pictures and career accomplishments.

I’d forever been known by my relation to the people around me who I so desperately sought to please. I was their daughter, sister, mother and wife. A lawyer, rainmaker, neuroscientist, and even still, a failure.

With each cycle, each heartbreak, each hurt, each pain, I tried to escape the past by changing what the world called me.

In 2018, in the darkest of nights, the warrior within me arose and took the steps I needed to break the cycle and change my life.

I said goodbye to the woman who allowed abuse and mistreatment, who dimmed her shine to please others, who loved to her own detriment, who ignored her gut intuition, who held onto beautiful lies.

I said hello to me.

I was free.

I was worthy.

I gave myself grace.

I chose me.

I chose Jae.

Not my birth name. Not my husband’s name. Not my maiden name. But a name I chose and I loved. A name I wouldn’t run from.

Just Jae.

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