I Changed my Name…And Not for the Reason You Think

I Changed my Name...And Not for the Reason You Think

I changed my name!

A little backstory….

One of my mindset mentors, Denise Duffield Thomas, introduced me to the concept of upgrades. Upgrades are little things you change in your life to make it more convenient, joyful, fun—instead of just making do.

Things like hiring a cleaning person or fixing those cabinets that you have to jiggle to get open. Opting for the room with the beautiful view, instead of the one that’s “good enough” and cheaper.

The idea is that we get accustomed to "making do" with what is instead of asking for what we want.

We deny ourselves out of principle, or just a subconscious sense that life can’t be too easy or too good.

So making upgrades is about making our life better, yes. But each little upgrade also challenges the mindset that we have to “make do” and settle. It pushes us out of our default sense of self-denial. It reminds us to even ask ourselves, “what do I really want?”

And this is particularly important for women.

As Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever share in their amazing books on women and negotiation, women tend to have a lower sense of “personal entitlement” than men.

We assume we can’t have what we want more often than men do. And in fact, it doesn’t even occur to us often to say, “I want that” about many things in our lives. Promotions, opportunities, wealth.

Now I know, saying, “get a little more entitled” feels dangerous, right? Like aren’t there too many entitled people walking around anyway? And making do—shouldn’t we all make do with less instead of fueling a growth-at-all-costs-driven economy?

But upgrades are not just about stuff. In fact, for me, they often aren’t. They’re about hiring a rapper to help me write a marriage proposal rap for my partner. They’re about hiring cleaning help when neither my partner nor I love to clean or tidy.

So back to the name change: I changed my name…. to my name.

I changed my name from Mia Scharphie to Maya Sharfi.

Exact same name, but now it’s just spelled to match the pronunciation.

People have had trouble pronouncing my name for years. In fact, my lunch lady in high school called me the wrong name for years, and I was just too tired (shy?) to correct her.

And it’s not intentional—and people who know me still mess up. When introducing me at a big talk, a client of mine who’d known me for years (and definitely knows how to pronounce my name) introduced me incorrectly while reading my bio off a page.

People mispronouncing my name has been an irritating facet of my life for a long time and has only gotten more frequent in the increasingly digital world we live in where people read your name—sometimes for months—before they ever meet you in person.

My brother, sister-in-law, and I considered changing our names en masse when he got married to a simpler spelling, but the moment passed. And the older I got, the more it seemed like I should have done this earlier.

But at some point, I started thinking, “what do I really want?”

I want people to pronounce my name correctly (most of the time).

And do I really need to continue to live with this friction because there was a “better” time to do it?

And I realized I was imposing self-made restrictions on what I really wanted…. and I am the one who gets to choose what I really want to do.

So recently, I found myself on Zoom court addressing a judge about my name change. And in five minutes it was done!

I’ve been walking around thinking, “I am Maya Sharfi.” (It sounds the same in my head, because it is the same. But it still gives me a thrill.)

So you’ll see some things change around here. By some things, I mean one thing, which is the spelling of my name.

And in the meantime, I’ll be practicing my new signature, and you can tell me about your latest upgrade 😉

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Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.