While I love teaching Shakespeare, there are few times I find myself actually agreeing with Juliet; but when it comes to her famous soliloquy about names, she’s nailed it. At the end of the day, names don’t really matter—whether I go by my current last name or take Mr. Orchard’s, I’m still me. Since I don’t rely on my name professionally, it’s an even easier switch. I always assumed I would happily take my husband’s name when I was younger, but as the days until the wedding grow fewer, I find myself surprisingly conflicted.
Here’s the thing girls (and guys?)—my last name reflects my Mexican heritage and, quite honestly, it’s really the only tangible thing that does. Physically, I don’t look particularly Mexican. I speak Spanish terribly (I took French to spite my father in high school—I’m pretty good at it actually, but unfortunately the joke was on me in the end!). The only obvious indicator to my cultural background is my last name, and if I just give it up, I feel like (true or not) I’ll be letting go of that part of myself and I don’t know that I am ready or fully willing to do that. I am so proud of my heritage, and I often feel remorse that I didn’t spend more time embracing it when I was younger. I used to get so annoyed when people would say, “Oh, that’s your last name? Are you Hispanic?” but now I kind of love it, especially being so far from home and family. I know that once I change my name that will never happen again. I wish I could better articulate why it bothers me so much. I keep running in circles about this trying to explain myself, but I just can’t. I’m hoping I’m not the only bride-to-be who has felt this way!
The obvious choice is to hyphenate, and I’ve been leaning toward that for a while now but something is still giving me pause. You see, I also love Mr. Orchard’s last name. I am excited to take it and, whatever choice I make, ultimately his name will be the one I go by socially so maybe that makes all of this a moot point but still”¦
There are other options which have been discussed here on the ‘Bee before. I could take my current last name and make it my middle name, but when I mentioned this to my mom she freaked out about me giving up my given middle name. I can have two, right? Or is that weird? I know it’ll be a little harder (and cost a bit more—fees may range from $100–$400 for a legal name change) to change my full name than to just take a new last name, but if it’s what I decide on it will be worth it. I could not take Mr. Orchard’s name at all, but I don’t want to do that. So I am currently at an impasse.
Has anyone else had a hard time letting go of their last name because you feel a cultural connection to it? What did you decide to do?