034. Names

tldr: how I chose mine

About 3 years ago, during my sophomore fall semester, I stopped using my legal name. Of course, it needed to be used for homework assignments and attendance and all that logistical stuff– but in most groups I was in I simply went without a name. For a while actually.

My friends would refer to me the same way that you might talk to someone *whose name you should know* but can’t quite place.

I had made a list of names that I was considering, which generally broke down into four categories (as my friends very quickly pointed out):

  • Colors
  • Places
  • Cultural references (mostly Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds)
  • Other

The other category was a catch-all, but honestly I hadn’t realized how much of my list fell into the first two categories. Olive, Magenta, Brooklyn, London, Miranda, Callie, Penelope, and so on. And so, they quickly went off the list. Not that there is anything wrong with those names, but after I saw it I couldn’t unsee it. So a list of 25 almost immediately became a list of 7.

I never quite got why it takes parents so long to name their kids, but even after I had narrowed down my options, I couldn’t decide on one for a good long while. Then, over my sophomore winter break, I ripped the bandage off and decided on


I hadn’t really been in a situation where I had to introduce myself to someone until that winter break, and then the gravity of it all hit me. I *didn’t* have a name one second, and the next I did. I felt more like a person than a concept. Maybe that’s why it takes parents so long– because it takes a while for a kid to transform from a concept to an actual person.

A semester or two later, one of my friends said I reminded them of a character in a podcast:

Dr. Joan Bright.

That last name found a home in my subconscious as I started listening to The Bright Sessions podcast. Characters saying “Dr. B” or “Dr. Bright”. Up until that point I hadn’t realized that changing my last name was also an option. I’m not even certain that I had wanted to change my name before then either. I had a lot of experiences where my last name was butchered by teachers and friends, and occasional comments on “well wouldn’t there be an accent over the e if it’s pronounced _____?” But these experiences didn’t really make me want to change it. I did, however, know that when I married someone that I would want to change my last name to theirs. And I know that I don’t connect as well (nor do I want to) to that side of my family tree.

I was texting my friend about this, when suddenly I got a screenshot of my contact info. “Paige Bright”. It felt natural. It felt good. Just like that, another piece of my identity spontaneously evolved. A month or two ago, in room 4-149 at MIT, I wrote “Dr. Paige Bright” on a chalkboard in Hagoromo chalk, manifesting a future where I get to do so again when I have my PhD.


Now, my middle name I hated for a really long time. It used to be Christian, and ever since 5/6th grade I realized that this name did not match my identity. Extremely so.

When I had landed on Paige though, I also decided on my middle name. One of my best friends is trans, and he took his friend’s middle name. I liked the idea of continuing this process, and thus my middle name became


But then, here I was years later, realizing how redundant that sounded. Paige Sunshine Bright. Yet another reason why it takes people so long to name their kids– all the various combinations of first and middle names that have to sound good to say and go well with the last name and so on. Nonetheless, I went back to the drawing board– aka: baby name websites.

Insert a million links for “middle names that go with Paige”

In any case, I picked one (fairly recently).

Of course, I still need to legally change my name (something that has taken much too long to do). But now I feel more complete. It’s nice to think about how it has changed, and how my friends influenced this process. I didn’t name myself after a grandparent or best friend, but what I decided on still feels as powerful. Another piece of the puzzle as to who I am has gone into place. Nearly three~ years later, I am no longer nameless.

Paige Alexandria Bright.

Published by Paige Bright

Hi- my name is Paige Alexandria Bright. I am a rising junior at MIT interested in mathematics and philosophy. I have been writing this blog since the beginning of COVID. Lets see where this goes.

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