And now it’s all official

Initials


I made such a rookie mistake on Tuesday — I’m almost embarrassed to tell you.

I showed up at a Social Security office to begin my post-marriage name-change process . . . without a book.

I know.

Let’s call it stupidity. Or complete naiveté. Or just pure insanity. Regardless, I was expecting to dash into the SSA to become a Johnson on my lunch break. In, oh, a half hour — maybe a touch more.

It’s no big deal, my newlywed coworker said.

I was in and out in 40 minutes or less, my newlywed sister said.

As for me? Well, I walked back out into the cool, crisp, freedom-laden air . . . almost three hours later.

If I wasn’t gray before I stepped in, I certainly was after.

(And for the record, I’ve been plucking coarse, stark-white hairs from my scalp often enough to scare me. It’s becoming a thing.)

My comrades-in-arms were sprinkled in the chairs all around me, all of us huffing and puffing and checking our watches and iPhones while others paced nearby. We grumbled to each other; we grumbled on our phones. I waited 40 minutes to simply get a number, then another hour-plus to be called.

There were two people working, calling us back one by one. And while we were there, one of the two went on her lunch break.

I mean, she has to eat — I get it. I certainly wouldn’t be starving in order to assist a red-faced crew of people needing to talk about retirement benefits or replacement cards or compromised social security numbers.

But anyway, it sucked.

The good news is that my request was accepted, and I was able to head back to work with a sparkly new identity. I expected to feel very emotional about it, especially given how I was reacting to the issue a month ago, but the whole process was over with surprisingly little fanfare.

I went in a Snider. I came out a Johnson.

And it’s totally okay. Cool, actually.

Like so many changes in my life, I think I’ve just needed time to adjust. The idea of crafting a new identity from the old one was very overwhelming at first, but I’ve quickly come to realize I’m still myself — and aside from some paperwork, not much regarding my identity has changed. I’m not starting over as someone new; I just have a partner now, and that wonderful gentleman and I share a name.

The Johnsons. I love it.

And I’m doing just fine!

Minus, you know, sitting for three hours without reading material, which ranks impossibly high in the Stupid Things This Bookworm Has Ever Done.

I might actually need to have my head examined.


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That crazy name-change issue

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In the past nine days, I’ve slowly started becoming a Johnson. It’s exciting, scary — and everything in between.

In the months leading up to the wedding, I toyed with the idea of . . .

Keeping my maiden name;
Hyphenating my last name;
Legally changing my last name, but keeping my maiden name professionally;
Just straight-up changing my last name and rolling with it.

It took me a while — and a bit of soul-searching — but I’ve ultimately decided to take Spencer’s last name. The choice is very personal, of course, and feels “right” to me. My husband has been very supportive of whatever I want to do, and I’ve been uncertain about it — but at the end of the day, my marriage marks a great change. A step into the future. And I feel like Johnson is that refresh I’ve been wanting.

I’m still me, of course. But I’m married me. And it will feel good — albeit scary — to take a new name.

Of course, these are all just words floating around the universe right now . . . I haven’t taken any legal steps to change just yet. Honestly, the idea of changing my entire identity makes me want to cower under a table fort made of old sheets at my grandparents’ house (which everyone knows is awesome). My younger sister has started the process, as has a newlywed coworker, so I’m relying on them for help and advice.

But I did make one big alteration: I changed my name on Facebook. That might as well be legal, right?

So it’s all fine and good to become Megan Johnson on a screen, friends, but that left me with another decision to make: what to do at work. Regardless of what I chose legally, I always thought I’d keep Snider somewhere in my moniker — either as a middle name or hyphenated part of Johnson. Since I write for a newspaper, I considered it a pen name. I thought it would be a nice homage to my roots.

Then I panicked.

Whatever I put with my column on Wednesday would set the tone for everything to come. If I’m Snider-Johnson now, even just professionally, that’s how I’ll be addressed by friends and readers alike. Staring at a computer screen on Monday morning, I realized I had to make a decision. A real decision.

Am I changing my name — or not?

It suddenly seemed strange to go halfsies . . . to be Snider-Johnson some places, Johnson or Snider in others. Which is it? Who am I?

Can I be both?

Caught up in the excitement of the wedding, I avoided the name-change issue. Friends have already started calling me Mrs. Johnson, and I love the way it sounds . . . but it’s still so foreign. But like all things surrounding my nuptials, both large and small, I’m sure it’s just a shift to which I’ll have to grow accustomed. I’m sure I’m not the first woman to look around in confusion when the doctor beckons “Mrs. So-and-so” out of the waiting room. (Who? Me?)

When the time came to put my byline on tomorrow’s column, I made a decision I didn’t expect.

I just went with Johnson. Plain ol’ Johnson.

So far, being Megan Johnson — at least in spirit — is pretty similar to being Megan Snider: both women are readers and writers, photographers and dreamers, daughters and sisters and friends. But the former gets to be part of my refresh, my reboot: my big, bold steps into whatever comes next with my husband.

Scary and good.

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If you’ve changed your name, how did it make you feel?
Did you ever feel uncertain about your decision?
Are you happy with the choice you ultimately made?