‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ William Shakespeare
My whole life I’ve always ached to change my name. When you’re born with the surname Weatherstone, you’re born into years of playground mocking; ‘Weatherspoon’ ‘Does your dad own a pub?’ ‘Do you have a stone that tells the weather? etc (kids are soooo creative!) So when i got engaged 2 years ago, I could not wait to drop the Weatherstone and finally have a surname that wasn’t so mockable.
Back in March I got my wish and became a Newman. For the most part, I really like it, it’s a nice, solid name you can’t really fuck with, it’s heard of, but not too common. I’ve actually struggled with the name change more than i thought. Don’t get me wrong, I love having the same name as my husband, and how it really makes me feel like we’re our own little family, and my dad has said how proud he is when he sees my new name pop up on an email. But I miss Helen Weatherstone more than I thought I would, I can’t help thinking that part of me, the old, single me, has gone. Since being married I’ve met new people at work, who will only ever know me as Helen Newman, and that makes me sad. I come from an extremely close family, where for most of my childhood, it was just me, my Mum, Dad and brother as we lived abroad. So changing my name kind of makes me feel disconnected from that little gang we had, just the 4 of us. It’s made me feel personally that my name actually meant more to me than I ever imagined and that somehow by changing my name, it’s made me a different person, or at the very least, nostalgic for the old me.
I know there are lots of reasons not to change your name, I’ve worked with a lot of medical and academic professionals who’s wives kept their maiden names for professional reasons, but seeing as I’m only an administrator, that didn’t really seem that appropriate a reason not to change. I was never not going to change it though or would ever change it back. It’s just really shocked me how difficult I’ve found the transition. I asked some of my married friends how they felt about changing their names, and most admitted it was strange at first but now love it. Some said one of the main reasons for doing it was so that any future children would have the same name (something i totally understand). Some double barreled their old and new names, which I think is the perfect compromise if the names go well together, I felt Weatherstone-Newman however, would be a bit of a mouthful! Also, does your husband then have to change his name to a double barreled name as well? That’s a lot of paperwork for both of you to have to do! A few though absolutely hate it and in fact changed it back again because they were so uncomfortable with it.
I take comfort in the fact that I’m clearly not alone in feeling like I’ve a lost a little bit of myself in changing my name, and that it’s clearly going to take more getting used to than I thought. I think I just need to remember that changing my name only indicates an exciting new chapter in my life, and that’s a good thing!
Thanks to my friends Gemma, Janet, Anissa, Louise, Kerry, Karen, Ami, Jane, Aileen, Lee and Amanda who shared their thoughts on this with me.