I've wanted to visit Jamaica for 26 years. Now, here I am. It's so chill here, I finally have space to read your love letters and fan mail.
Since I publicly wrote about 5 Reasons Why I Had to Change my Name, many women have shyly and hesitantly admitted that they too would loooooove to change their legal name, first and/or last. But they were unsure.
So I figured I'd share with you what to expect, how people will react to your legal name change.
Very First Reaction
People's very first reaction wasn't judgment. Surprisingly! It wasn't curiosity. It wasn't shock or surprise. It wasn't encouragement or support.
People's very first reaction was... But what will they think?
Replace they with: mother, father, family, clients, neighbors, followers, colleagues, cat, cactus, or big toe. Every single person reacted with deep concern about how someone else reacted.
Fascinating, isn't it? How culture has shackled us to prioritize what others think far above what we think...
Sweet Unfolding Followed
To my surprise, my clients were the first to jump on board! They knew me under my birth name, they stood by me during multiple re-inventions, and they laughed and cried with me to 60+ countries.
If you're afraid that a legal name change will hurt business, you'd be mistaken. It was the opposite: courage is really, really good for business!
My professional colleagues were the second to switch over, out of respect, mutual admiration, and belonging to the same tribe.
If you're afraid of losing professional standing, you'd be mistaken. A name change was like a miraculous self-cleaning oven: the burnt up crust fell away and it became crystal clear who which people are actually worth keeping in my life.
My close circle of friends were the third wave. Though they tried really hard to be the first wave to embrace my new name, they've used my birth name so many times during our many Skype chats. It took time and repeated gentle nudging for them to adjust.
My outer circle of friends were the fourth wave. They'd sincerely apologized each time they called me by the “wrong” name. It was so endearing, it made me tear up each time to witness their conscious support.
Family was last to convert. Of course. They've known me the longest. And some just plain refuse to change over. Too bad for them.
Then the Expected Hit
And then, of course, the expected reactions from the critics in the cheap seats hit:
- judgment, because they don’t understand why anyone would do this
- criticism, because they'd be too afraid to do something like this
- shaming in the form of “who do you think you are?” or “don’t you have any respect for your heritage?”, because change makes them terrifyingly uncomfortable
Do you see? Their reactions have nothing to do with me. Their reaction shows how they are living under the tyranny and fear of what others may think. Judgment, criticism and shame all come from fear, their fear.
So what will it be? Live under the tyranny of what they may think or Live free?
Courage is contagious, pass it on!