Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's in a name? Apparently, identity theft.

People are funny.  Their opinions on things, and the emphatic nature in which they choose to express said opinions, never cease to amaze me.  One person recently rendered me temporarily speechless in a mouth agape,dumbstruck look on my face sort of way by her comment to me in a group discussion about my recent wedding.  Someone asked if I planned to change my name.

I recently re-married.  I opted to change my name.  It was not a decision I entered into lightly.  Largely because it's a major pain in the ass to change your name as a middle aged well established adult.  The list of who needs to be notified and provided what set of documents is longer than my arm.  It's hugely time consuming and at least in the passport department, costly.  I know.  I've done it three times now...

I found it surprising so many people had such strong opinions on the matter and felt compelled to give me their advice.  Sort of like when women feel compelled to tell you their birth story in an attempt to one-up the last person's story.  It was mostly women, but some men also expressed their thoughts on the matter.

Most surprising, was that most people said "Don't do it!"  When asked why, I usually got the "It's such a pain in the ass" or "It's old fashioned, no one does that anymore" or "Why don't you hyphenate?"  What shocked me was the woman who said "I hate it when women do that (change their name when they marry).  It's like giving away your identity!  Why would you do that?!"  [Insert dumbstruck mouth agape vision of my face here].

Really?  Changing my surname is akin to giving away my entire identity?  I'm pretty sure I look the same, sound the same, get paid the same and function the same as I did before.  I didn't hand over control of my mind, my body, my finances or my 'stuff'.  I have the same SS#, credit card numbers, phone number, even address!  I simply chose to change my surname.  I gave away nothing but my love.  Hello?!

I'm guessing she had a bad experience.  Maybe she gave away HER identity and is bitter?  Maybe she just has control issues in a woman vs. man world?  I dunno, but she clearly has an issue with it.

So, this is a question I've been asked often.  Do you wonder why I chose to change my name for the third time, the second time in 4 years?  (I took my first husband's name, re-claimed my maiden name when we divorced and now have taken my new husband's name).  The answer really is simple.  I changed my name for two reasons.  Because he really wanted me to and it was important to him and because I wanted to.  I wanted to because it was important to him.  Because I am proud to be his wife.  Because this time, I didn't do it because it was expected or tradition or a 'status' thing.  Sure, it's a royal PIA to do.  Sure, I have better things to do with my time.  But hey, now I'm Italian!  :-)

Seriously, the bottom line is that this time, I did it because it was right.  Right for me.  Right for us.

In the end, right for me is all that matters.  Whether it's a name change, a new sweater or a life decision.  It's all about me, selfish as that sounds, there it is.  I wanted it.  I did it.  If I didn't want to do it, trust me, I wouldn't have, no matter how much he might have wanted me to. Another great benefit of being in your 40's, independent mindedness.

What did I say to her?  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor and shook my head in dramatic fashion, I laughed and said "Um... because I wanted to.  I gave nothing away, it's about what I gained."  She looked bewildered and went on her way.

Got my new driver's license in the mail today.  Kimberly Amato.  Yep.  I like it.  And not just because the picture is good!  :-)

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