Well, last Friday I finally did the ole’ official name change. It only took me three months since my wedding… this was a hard process. I remained undecided about changing my name until about 2 weeks before the big day. After months of flip-flopping, something in my gut just told me I needed to take Ryan’s last name. Then, why do you ask did it take me another 3 months to actually get the job done? 90% because I was avoiding the pain of wasting half a day going to the DMV and Social Security and 10% because I was still wary about saying goodbye to Katie Walsh and hello to Katie MacDonald. I still look at that name and think, “Who is that?”
When I was a little girl I would doodle my name with all my crushes for fun. Katie DiCaprio was my favorite of course. It was fun to picture yourself as someone else – another way to play pretend. But I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m a woman who has grown into her identity and that identity includes my name. I spent my twenties building the foundation of who I am – personally and professionally.
It took years to really get to know myself as Katie Walsh and now I was expected to say goodbye to a piece of her? It may seem selfish – the feeling that I’m giving up a little piece of who I am, where I came from, my childhood. Ryan said he understood and would be okay with whatever decision I made (even though I knew he really really wanted me to change it). But then, he also said he would NEVER change HIS name. Hmmm. This made me think even more about the societal pressures of why we need to change our names.
Research shows that the nineties were they heyday of women keeping their names. This most likely occurred in the wake of the seventies feminists movement. During the 1990’s a whopping 23% of women kept their last name after marriage. Now, it is estimated that just 8% of American women do so. (research comes from this article and from a poll done by YouGov).
Feminism has changed – I wasn’t making a political point when I was deciding whether or not to change my name. It was simply my choice and I wanted to make the best decision. In the end, I decided to change my name to create a bond with my new husband – to continue the symbol of our commitment and unity. Another big factor is the future kids. I want to have the same name as them to prevent any confusion and to also continue the whole family unit thing. I like to look at us as a team and a team can’t have two separate names right? I’m starting a new chapter with Ryan, we’re doing this together. I’m not losing any piece of who I am – I’m simply adding to it.
What do you think about the importance of names? What did you do when you got married, or, what do you plan on doing if you ever have to make that choice?