Drop, Hyphenate, Avoid or Don’t Remove At All

Changing your last name. These are the things soon to be newlyweds discuss as they contemplate their final days as separate beings.  For some, it’s an easy decision.  But for people like me who overthink everything and make simple things complicated, this simple decision becomes heart wrenching because it has strong ties to your identity, loss of independence and taking on a last name that now makes you common.  My life was already moving at a thousand miles a minute, the last thing I wanted to do was lose the last bit of me that I had left, but I had already promised Adam that I would.  And the last thing you need in a new marriage is breaking promises and doing the opposite of what you said you would do.

I took it back to high school and started writing my future last name in notebooks and doodling around it to get myself used to it.  I then brought the discussion back up with my husband and asked if it was that important to him.  A decision he felt so strongly about a few months ago was now not his priority but it was still remained important to him.  He understood that we had just went from hanging out all night with our friends to now having to be the most responsible humans on earth.  He assured me that whatever I decided would be fine, but the last few words dropped off, which meant that is not how he really felt.  So I printed the paperwork and held on to it for a while.  I started to see other people quickly change their last name as soon as they got married and I began to feel guilty.  But that did not make me move any faster.

I made excuse after excuse and finally decided to go down to the Social Security office and get it done.  I get there really early and a line is already formed.  I take a number and have a seat and start to observe my surroundings.  It is the typical DC government scenery, lots of people moving in the background, no ones name being called.  I waited for over an hour and they had only called two numbers.  I clearly wasn’t ready and I sure wasn’t that dedicated to getting it done at that moment, so I left.  I let a few more weeks pass by and I realized that I could mail my paperwork in and they would return my important documents within two weeks.  This seemed like the best route at the time, so I mailed off all of my documents to the field office.  As usual, the DC government did not return my important documents in two weeks or even a month, try almost 3 months.  After numerous phone calls to everyone in every office, I randomly get my paperwork back and then a few weeks later I get my NEW social security card.

In order to make the transition less painful, I made my middle name my maiden name and got rid of that rachetta sounding middle name that my Dad “created.”  And it felt great.  Mostly because I did not have to wait in an office, but even more because I fulfilled my first promise to my husband and did what made him happy.  Sadly, I still have not changed my last name everywhere but the most important places know me as Mrs. Williams.  I am still awkward and weird so when someone calls me Mrs. Williams I am confused for a minute moment but I quickly respond and smile like nothing ever happened.

The point of this story is to do things in your own time.  Do what makes you happy and comfortable.  Do what is best for you and your significant other.  Live in your truth.  Be you. Tell your story. On your own terms.

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4 thoughts on “Drop, Hyphenate, Avoid or Don’t Remove At All

  1. I so feel you! I was motivated to do it quickly (within the first month) because we need to change beneficiary docs, wills, w-4s, etc and we were both reluctant to have to do it twice with my maiden name and then new name later. Surprisingly, I actually had a really different experience with Social Security. On Thursday, I went to the “hoodest” of offices. No numbering system in place so I just waited in line for 2 hours. My “interview” was quick and pleasant with tons of congratulations and hand holding as I had a freakout moment debating going through with it. I had to let her know my life when she suggested dropping my middle name “naw lady, that’s my grandmama name! that’s my living angel, my errythang!” I took my important docs home with me same day and yesterday, Monday!, one business day between, my new card was waiting in the mailbox. Yikes! Life is moving too fast twinnie … I’d better hold on tight!

  2. This discussion has come up many times in my relationship. I already have a hyphenated last name and have decided that I shall be the first to have a doubly hyphenated name. Problem solved!!!

    • LOL Yes. My mom hyphenated her name for a while but she had problems fitting it on her license and in forms. She needed up dropping it. Thats when you have to decide which one stays for paperwork and which one goes.

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