Thursday, June 5, 2014

That's Not My Name

I'm having an identity crisis.

I'm changing my last name.
Or I'm not changing my last name.

I said I was going to take Jack's name if only because I really like the sound of it.

But then a friend pointed out that I'm the only "Kelly Spoer" in the world.

Yup. Google my name and you only get me.
Google "Kelly O'Dowd" and you get hundreds.

But I come to an impasse: I've been using "Kelly O'Dowd" as my writing name. Ya know, the name I'm actually attaching to my Book editing gig. (What? I didn't write about that? oh. hmmm. ok)

I asked Twitter. I asked Facebook. Everyone gave their reasons for either changing or not. Or creating a new one. Or if both spouses changed their name or only one.

And it's interesting. A lot of women said that they didn't even think about NOT changing their name. It was just a part of the marriage process.

I can respect that.

But for me, names are so much more.
Names are powerful.
Names are you.
You are your name.

I came across this Ursula K. Le Guin piece in college. Senior year. Postmodern Literature. It was in our textbook. I don't even remember if it was assigned reading or not. I just remember being moved by it.

She Unnames Them

Unnaming is not uncreating.
Although it feels like that.
It's wiping the slate clean.

But it comes to mind now (and whenever I think about how names bind us to things) that I'm attached to my own name. It's my identity. Will I still be the same Kelly if I changed my name? Or will I somehow destroy my individuality because I'm taking another's?

On the surface, people will say (and have said) that it's a silly notion. Of *course* you're the same person. You're the same person with or without your name. But something about that doesn't feel right to me. This bundle of experiences can only be expressed with "Kelly Spoer."

And I know that "Kelly O'Dowd" will have her own bundle of experiences, but....

It's not the same.

I still haven't come to a conclusion on what I'm going to do.
Because keeping my last name seems wrong too. That I'm *too* distinct from my husband. That the only thing we have together is our address and our joint savings account.

So I ask. (not that I think anyone really reads this besides myself and the people who have already read my tweet or facebook post)

Why change your name?


  1. I believe the name change to be part of the process, and to not change seems to me like not fully committing to the institution of marriage. I generally feel if you are going to be married, you should change it. If not, why bother with marriage at all?

    1. Then, by that logic, both parties should change their names in order to "fully commit" to the institution of marriage. They're both entering into it and being changed by it. So both Kelly AND Jack should change their names.

    2. Well, there are other reasons to get married dave. Like me loving the guy for one.....

  2. I look at changing your name as a chance to reinvent yourself. When I went to college the most appealing part of it was reintroducing myself to the world. I think a name change after marriage can be the same thing. I also know couples who did change both of their names which I think is pretty cool.

    For me, my wife changed her name to mine. I like having the same last name, it cuts out a lot of questions about our status (comes up when you're poly). I would have also been ok with both of us changing our names.

    I dunno; it's a change, and I've learned to not fear change. Change is how you grow and discover more about yourself. But if you're not ready for that change, don't let anyone push you.

    1. It's not the change that bothers me, it's the going from literally the only one in the world to not. And that saddens me.

      But I understand the poly thing. Simple is sometimes better after all.

      I think I figured it out though. So it's all good. Just gotta practice my signature.