Naming Conventions

Okay, I confess.  Every now and then I do it, but then, a lot of people do.  Perhaps because I’m trying to figure out who I really am, or perhaps because I’m looking for any reviews of my books, I search for myself online.  Various search engines (I prefer Ecosia) bring up different websites near the top, generally those with large numbers of hits.  I was surprised to find a website that gives away lots of personal information, even in the description so you don’t have to click on it.  One bit that caught my attention about myself was where it said “Steve also answers to Steve A. Miller.”  That’s incorrect.  My mother’s second husband was a Miller.  He never adopted us.  One thing that kids fear, however, is being teased and the name “Wiggins” came in for quite a bit of teasing in rural Pennsylvania.  We started using “Miller” since both our mother and stepfather used that name.

What is it with the singers? Photo credit: Capitol Records, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, I only later found out that “Steve Miller” was an up-and-coming pop artist at the time.  That singled me out for more teasing.  It didn’t help that I didn’t like Steve Miller’s musical style.  I still don’t.  I kept the name Miller up through seminary.  When I was preparing for ordination I was also rediscovering who I was.  A wise minister I knew told me that since there were two names out there for me, I’d need to nail down one to keep.  Although we’d only recently officially changed names to Miller, my brothers and I had to officially change them back to our birth names.  In a way perhaps inconceivable today, as I recall it, we simply introduced ourselves at our new schools (we had to move after the wedding) as “Miller.”  We registered for Social Security under that name, and nobody batted a lash.  Maybe we talked with an inexpensive lawyer at some point?

Only as an adult did I feel that my birth name was my heritage.  I suppose some of those who friend me on social media, who knew me in high school or college, wonder who “Steve Wiggins” is.  They only knew me as “Miller.”  Changing names is a pain.  I can understand, and support women who want to keep their “maiden” names.  It confuses our dowdy society even now, but one thing about marriage is that it generally involves two individuals.  But then I glanced down at the next entry.  This person, apart from living in a state where I’ve never resided, had even the same middle name as me.  Who’s the joker now?  I don’t answer to that name any more. And no, I didn’t find any reviews.

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