Change is hard.
It’s awkward. Clunky. Uncomfortable. Even if it’s the good kind of change! There are always growing pains.
This week, my name officially changed. The name I was born with and the one my parents custom-picked just for little old me, is no more. I am no longer Elyse Gibson. I am now Elyse Ash.
And it’s weird.
I mean, it’s happy. I CHOSE it, ya know? At least these days women get a choice. We get to decide which sounds better. Which we like better. What we want to do. We don’t just become the property of some guy we didn’t even choose in the first place. So that’s pretty rad. And, for the most part, we are not judged by our decision to change or not change our name. I’ve had friends take their husband’s last name, keep their maiden name, tie the names together with a hyphen, and create an all-new name. THERE ARE NO RULES ANYMORE. If you really wanted to, you could change your name to Princess Consuela Banana Hammock like Phoebe from Friends.
But after a lot of internal back and forth, I decided to change my name and take Brad’s last name. For a few reasons:
- • Going from a last name that begins with “G” to one that begins with “A” is basically like getting a social promotion. Let’s do everything in alphabetical order now, guys!
- • A last name with three letters? Think of all the time I’ll save by not having to write out three additional letters on forms and applications. I am all about efficiency!
- • And now for the actual, non-joke reason. Thinking long term; if Brad and I are lucky enough to have children, I want to have the same last name as the rest of my family. This is very important to me. I don’t want to feel like an outsider. I want us to be the Ash family. Not the Ash family—and Elyse.
As someone who calls herself a feminist, it was a little weird to change my name, since it seems on the surface to be making a huge, annoying change for a guy. But feminism is not about standing up to “The Man.” It’s about making your own choices. Celebrating your right to decide what is right for you. So that’s what I did. I made my own choice. Brad never pushed or bullied or manipulated. He let me decide which felt right to me (which, he shouldn’t really get kudos for doing since that should be expected, but what the hell; go Brad!) And I decided, on my own, to make the change. To merge our last names along with our lives. To put on our united front. To be the Ash household.
And yet, it’s STILL weird. There was something about Elyse Gibson. The cadence. The way it looks. The comfort of the letters being arranged just so. It’s like when you do a major renovation on your house; and it just doesn’t FEEL right. Of course it’s beautiful and still your home. It just takes a while to get used to where the new drawer handles are, where you keep the oven mitts now, and the way the floor feels.
I was in the elevator the other day and was basically bullied into introducing myself, and wasn’t sure how to do it. Elyse Gibson just came so quickly and naturally! It was a reflex. Elyse Ash I have to prepare to say. To write. To sign. It’s not instinctive yet. I know that will come with time and that now is just the funny, odd in-between time. But still. It’s a big change. A hard change.
So now I’m Elyse Ash. I still think Elyse Gibson just SOUNDS better. The rhythm. The two syllables followed obediently by another two syllables. It rolls off the tongue. Elyse Ash is kind of tricky to say. The soft “s” followed immediately by the “sh” makes me sound like I have a serious lisp. This is why it was such a great consolation to hear the following words from a dear friend/true feminist/amazing writer: “I actually think you went from the name of a restaurateur heiress to a novel character. So I am good with the change.”
Novel character, eh? Ok. I’m sold.