What's in a Name?

The other day, one of my oldest friends, who is also getting married, told me she recently practiced her new signature, with her new last name.

After years of doodling in school notebooks my name paired with the last name of the my latest infatuation, you would think that I would be dying to scribble my new name, complete with little hearts surrounding it.

The thing is, I won’t have a new name.

I have been Kelsey Sunstrum my entire life. Even in my younger years when I replaced my last name with that of my boy du jour, I knew I would never change my name.

I’ve never been able to understand how women readily, and some eagerly, accept the change of name. Not to say this is wrong; I can see the romanticism of taking your partner’s name, for sure. My first question though has always been, “Why can’t he change his name?”

(I don’t consider women who take their husband’s last name as any less independent, or any less of a feminist, by the way.)

Changing your name also seems comical to me. If I asked my friends and family to start calling me Victoria instead of Kelsey, they would think I’m crazy. It would also probably be relatively uncomfortable for them to use this name, having known me as Kelsey for 25 years.

That’s because you put more meaning and value in your name than you would think.

People make sense of the world by assigning labels to objects and people. For example, when we walk into a living room, we expect to see couches, a coffee table, most likely a TV, maybe some bookshelves, and more. These all have labels, and grouped together, they form what we commonly label a ‘living room.’ Labels make it easy for us to recognize understand everyday scenarios.

Now, imagine you were visiting your friend’s new place for the first time. She leads you into a room with a toilet, sink, shower, and towels. She tells you this is her living room.

Wait. No, it’s not.

We just established a living room has couches, a coffee table, etc. A living room isn’t the place for a toilet or a sink. The juxtaposition of the two doesn’t make sense and is actually a pretty amusing thought.

And so, whenever I think about taking Eric’s last name, I chuckle to myself. I know who Kelsey Sunstrum is. I have no idea who the hell Kelsey [insert long, Italian last name that no one can pronounce] is.

Kelsey Sunstrum
Freelance Writer
Writer of Love & Lunch - http://loveandlunch.tumblr.com
E-mail: Kelsey.Sunstrum@gmail.com

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