Twelve years ago, Alina Vilenkin took her mother's maiden name and became Alina Simone, and with the switch came a whole new life. She went from being a person who never followed through on anything to one who finally pursued her true passion: singing. "I changed my name and it changed me," she writes in the New York Times. "I poured my best self into my new name." So when she heard that an audience member at one of her shows decided to change her own name to "Alina Simone," Simone No. 1 wondered if Simone No. 2 would follow a similar path.
She tracked down the new Alina Simone, and learned that the Brazilian lawyer had already been looking for a new name when she happened upon "Alina Simone"—and liked it. She had recently discovered her husband of 11 years Skyping with a woman one morning; he asked for a divorce that night. With her new name, Simone No. 2 tells Simone No. 1, she finally discovered who she really was. She moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, began volunteering, ran the NYC marathon, and became an American citizen. "Thinking of Alina’s story," Simone No. 1 writes, she realized "there is no way to know ahead of time how strong you are, how capable of beginning again." Her whole essay is worth a read. (Read more name stories.)