I grew up in a very small town. I went to the same school from kindergarten through high school graduation. As nurturing as this was, and as grateful as I am for it now, I remember how constrictive it felt by the time I was eighteen. I felt like I had become the sum of everyone’s assumptions about me – at least as far as they were concerned. I felt like the “real me” was obscured by shared history.
I so looked forward to moving away to college, where I could start fresh. No one knew me. No one had any preconceived notions about me. I could be the “real me” and slough off the years like a snakeskin.
Funny how when a snake sheds its skin, it still looks pretty much the same.
What I’ve learned from having lifelong friends is that the essential components of my personality are rock-solid. I’ve been consistent since childhood, and will continue to be “me” for the rest of my life, regardless how how much personal growth I undertake.
While I rest in identity limbo – that space between two names – I consider this lesson.
For a while I feared giving up my maiden name – would I be sacrificing so much that I’d built over the years?
Then I was excited about a fresh start. I could take a step away from somewhat embarrassing things like those articles I’ve written for content farms under my maiden name.
In reality, changing my name will be a long to-do list of remembering all of the places I’ve used my own name. It won’t make a difference. I will still be me – regardless of the different surname, regardless of the tick in a different box under marital status.
I’m ok with that.