Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello, my name is...

"Maybe you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be." Sex and the City

In the car yesterday afternoon, I was thinking about how surprised people seem to be when they learn that Rock is a) my real last name (people often think it's made up) and b) my married last name - and I'm not married anymore.

I was trying to decide if I should write about the decision, and the apparent and unexpected fall-out, and the my friend Baking Suit posted this last week.. This is apparently a case of great minds thinking alike - and thus, this post was born.

I graduated college in 1996, engaged but not yet married. My last name was Ginett. Gi pronouned like give, nett prounounced like net. Prior to the commencement ceremony, graduates were asked to hand in an index card with our name written as we would like it pronounced as we walked across the stage. I wrote my name out; then I provided a phonetic spelling; then I provided examples of the correct pronunciation. My index card was given to an English professor with a PhD.

Who misprounounced my last name as I was handed my diploma.

I could not wait to get married and get rid of that last name. I love my family, and they are largely responsible for who I am as a person. But I wanted to be a Rock. Two years later, I would be.

Anyone who says that marriage doesn't change who you are has either never been married, or is living in a perpetual state of denial. I don't care how self-aware you are, if you lived together first, or what - being married changes you. Even just a teeny bit.

Since I married young, that was even more true for me. I hadn't even come into my own when I walked down the aisle, so I did a whole lotta changing in the ten years that followed.

Unfortunately, I learned that there was one thing that could change me more than marriage: Divorce. Four years later, I am most definitely not the same person I was when I got married, or even when the marriage started to end. But I am also not the same person who so happily marched down to the Social Security Office in July 1998 to begin the process of changing from a Ginett to a Rock.

So who the hell am I? Should I still be Sue Rock? Or go back to being Sue Ginett?

There was a time when I planned to change my name as soon as the ink was dry on my divorce papers. Of course that was also when I was angry with X, and dragging furniture to the end of the driveway on my own in a fit of...well....rage. Anger makes people do stupid things. I didn't need that bookcase, but I am very glad I didn't make any more lasting decisions while in that state of mind.

After things calmed down, and X and I started to develop a friendship, I saw things differently. Here are the factors that ultimately influenced my decision to keep my married name:

* Paperwork - I freaking hate it. Though it isn't terribly complicatd to legally change your name, getting it changed on bills, accounts, and even important documents (like the other diploma I received in 2008) is just a lot of work that I really don't want.

* Professional Branding - I'd already started blogging, networking, and other work, under this name. Changing it seemed like more of a hassle. Not to mention - Rock is just a cooler name than Ginett. Sorry, Dad - but it's true.

* Personal Branding - Most of my closest friends know me as Sue Rock (with a few exceptions). They'd probably keep referring to me that way, even if my name did change. So what's the point?

* Family Ties - X doesn't have a lot of family. My family loved him as though he was their own, and he loved them too. I can't speak for him, but I still consider X a part of my family (and I know my family feels the same). I feel like it's nice for him to have at least one other Rock around.

The bottom line is this: I came into who I am as a person with the last name Rock. It more closely identifies with who I am today, and I like the name. It's mine; I earned it, and I'm keeping it. So there.

Now, are there any circumstances under which I'd consider changing my name? I can think of only two:

Sue Jeter - has a nice ring, dontcha think?
* If X got remarried - Out of respect for the new Mrs. Rock, I might change my name, if it mattered to either of them. I doubt that it would (I'm not a Mrs., I'm a Ms., so she'd still be the only Mrs. X Rock around). But I'd be gracious enough to at least consider the change.

* If I got remarried - If I knew then what I know now, I'd never have changed my name in the first place - but I can't unring that bell. Still, I'd understand if my imaginary-future-husband (or as I like to call him, Derek) was uncomfortable with the idea that his wife's name was given to her by her ex-husband.

In that case, would I change my name to his, or just go back to my maiden name? I'm not sure. But I do know if I ever do this again, it will be the last time.

Anything to keep the paperwork to a minimum.


  1. Sue Jeter has a fabulous ring to it....

    So does Sue Moore

  2. Mrs. JETER:

    I am with you on that one.
    I am legally my maiden name... but at work I still use my ex's last name... to much of a hassle... People know me as this...
    It's my professional face....
    It's a weird place to be.

  3. Derek and Sue Jeter - sweet!

  4. I know how you feel, Sue. My last name was always mispronounced by many people, and I feel frustrated whenever they did, especially when I was in high school, but I got used to it eventually. Sometimes, my friends even try to mispronounce it just to make fun of me. Haha!