You Call Me Rae, But That’s Not My Name

My real name is RaDonna, and I only see or hear that name at the doctor’s office, in a letter from the IRS, or from a few high school friends. Basically… I rarely hear my real name.

For at least 16 years—over half of my life—I have been known as Rae. Early in my life, my dad started calling me “Rae” because apparently it came out faster when I was up to no good (knowing myself, I imagine this happened regularly). Then, sometime in elementary school, I stopped answering to RaDonna altogether. I spelled Rae so many different ways; at first Ray, then other variations like Rā, Rai and Rei, finally landing on Rae sometime in middle school. The rest has been my life. Rae Reed worked for me.

As I grow older, however, I find myself gravitating toward RaDonna. Not surprisingly, this year I enter my Saturn Return, therefore I equally find myself confronting who I was, who I am, and who I want to become.

Turns out, I want to be more like RaDonna as a girl.

When I think about who I was, RaDonna as a girl, I think about the girl who listened to the wind to discover whether or not it was going to rain. I think about the girl who stood up to a bully on the playground, and ended up getting in trouble for it. I think about the girl, no older than six, who snuck out of her Linden home late at night in her pink pjs and chased down the ice cream truck after hearing its song (the driver sent me home; apparently ice cream wasn’t the product they pushed).

To me, RaDonna represents a defiant, intuitive girl with sass… almost exactly who I turned out to be, or try to be, after all of life’s self-discovery.

For the past couple of years, I’ve planted seeds here and there to discover what it would feel like to be called RaDonna again. Every time I hear or read that name, I feel butterflies dancing in my stomach. It makes me feel seen, so much so that I feel vulnerable.

Yet, I hesitated.

Everyone I know, personally and professionally, calls me Rae. In a sense, I feel like I’m changing everything about myself, and exposing my complete self to everyone I know. But when I really stop to think about it, neither my left nor right brain gives any fucks about those things. I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate the shitshow 2016 was. At a minimum, however, it has proved that life is short and unpredictable; we should not waste any time being anyone other than who we want to be.

That’s why I’m starting to go by RaDonna again. Because that’s my name, and when’s a better time?

I guess that’s why I’m sharing this transition with you. Don’t wait any longer to do the thing you want to do. It’s your fucking life.

With that being said… I like it when you call me RaDonna (sing that to the tune of Big Poppa and you won’t be disappointed).


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