Several months ago, I started going by “Riki” instead of “Rik.” It began almost subconsciously as I was meeting new people at the skating rink. I didn’t know why I was suddenly introducing myself as “Riki” but I just went with it.
Slowly I started expanding this practice, and now in informal settings, it’s just my name.
I’m just starting to unpack what is behind the name change. The first thing to note is that it isn’t a name change at all. For most of my childhood I was known as “Ricky” to my family.
That wasn’t the case outside of my home though. In school and other settings, I went by “Rich.” I don’t know how or why that started. I think it’s because my actual legal name is “Richard,” which is terribly formal to call a kid. So probably teachers and other kids started calling me “Rich” early on, and that just stuck through all of K-12.
It was weird having this double-life, where during the school day I was called one name, and at home and in family settings I was called another name.
I distinctly remember one day a bunch of school kids found out about my family name and started calling me “Ricky” in a taunting way. “Hey, Riiiickkky!” You know how shitty kids can be about even the dumbest things. That of course made me burst into tears.
To this day, there is only one friend that I will allow to call me “Rich,” — David Platt, my best friend from high school.
When I went off to college, I decided to go by a different variation on my name: Rik. That makes sense — going off to college is often about self-discovery and re-invention for many young adults.
And I’ve remained Rik for all of my life, until this past year.
I have to say, it makes me so happy to go by Riki. It feels simultaneously like going back to my earliest, most intimate name from my childhood and a new name that represents who I am today. So both old and new me’s combined.
I love to hear people call me Riki. Particularly old friends who knew me by Rik, who remember to use my current name.
I realized not long ago that this feeling might be a tiny sliver of what it must feel like for someone who has come out in their newly discovered gender identity for others to remember their pronouns. That joy of feeling truly seen for their truest self.
I also love this idea that even now, as a middle-aged human, I can still re-invent and re-present myself to the world. That every day is an opportunity for renewal and re-examination of who you are and getting closer to who you want to be.
I love being Riki.