I’m Me, After All

This is the 21st century. I at least wanna hyphenate my name.

  This quote comes to you from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. It’s one of my favorite books and a delightful movie. In this scene, Edward is talking to Bella about getting married and becoming Mrs. Cullen, to which she responds with the above. But why am I bringing that up, a decade or so after it came out on the big screen? Because that line is relevant to me each and every day of my life.

I got married almost 2 years ago. It’s been great fun, and great stress, but I picked a partner wisely and I am happy with my decision. But the thing is, it’s also very hard being married in a way that I think women almost exclusively know. Identification. And more specifically, what you call yourself.

My initials, according to what my parents named me are MRB. My dad made the joke many many years ago that they’d named me that because I would always know who I belonged to (Mr. B). Now, he was completely joking, but that thought stuck with me. How do I define myself when someone else defined me before I was even born? I would forever associate myself with others. I am the friend of so and so, the daughter, the student, the whatever of someone.

But: Who. Am. I?

  So when I decided to get married, I decided to become Mrs. Someone. But that joke stuck with me. Who I belonged to. And although I love my Ben, he doesn’t own me. I do. And so as I took my documents to the Social Security office, I proudly announced that I would no longer be MRB. I would from that moment on be MRB-B. I told myself and others that I was doing it so that when I published academic papers, you’d know without a doubt it was me and not some other MRB. 

But the thing is, I also did it because I am now the only person in the world with my name. I am me. I have embraced the old me, the me that was a child. I embrace the new me, the one who has an entire other person by my side. But I also accept neither of those things as my definition. Because I’m not the property of someone else, I’m my own property. 

Being a hyphenated woman has some perks and some drawbacks. I can sound exceptionally sophisticated and enunciate the fact that I have four names. I can use either my maiden name or my husband’s as I see fit (apart from official business). I can decide who I am at any given time. But. I also belong nowhere. 

I do not see my hyphenation as an outward sign that I am not happy with my marriage but it came to my attention that I take that fact for granted. I was signing for a package last week and they asked me my last name. I said my maiden name out of YEARS of habit and was immediately scolded for it. “You’re married. Aren’t you happy about that? You should use your married name.” And it hit me that maybe not everyone has such liberal ideas about definitions as me.

  I am incredibly lucky to have found a high school sweetheart and married him and successfully made a name for myself. I never once looked back and said “Yeesh. Maybe I should give myself an out.” I chose to be MRB-B because I wanted to define myself by my standards. I want to call myself whatever I want because I am my own person. But at the end of the day, I wear my wedding ring everywhere, I happily say “I’m married.” When people flirt with me. I bring up my husband (and the fact that I have one) when people on the internet ask me questions. And in fact, here we see that I have mentioned him a LOT in this post alone. So when I say my original B, it isn’t because I don’t actually love my husband. It’s because I said it for over 20 years and it’s still my name. And when I say my new B, it isn’t because I feel like I have to use it, it’s because I’m proud I can. But that’s the beauty of the hyphenation. I get to do what I want. And so, a new me arose.

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Thankfulness, The Sixth Day

I’ve been at this almost a week, and I came to realize that I’m not the same person I was last year, or the year before that. I mean, obviously I’m biologically different, but my mind has grown as well. I had planned on writing today’s post about coffee and conversations, but then a song popped into my head. It’s a pretty common occurrence for me, and yet that song made me pause. 

Chances.

The song is by Five For Fighting, it came out in 2009. I really didn’t appreciate it when it first came into my life. But then again, when do we appreciate things immediately? 

This semester, I’ve been pushed to my limit. Classes with no posted grades and crazy attendence policies, professors with no filters (and bad manners), time that never seems long enough, money that never stays. I’ve changed schools, changed addresses and changed jobs in the last year, not to mention, vehicles and personalities. I’ve missed opportunities because of depression, passed on opportunities because of anxiety, taken opportunities and made mistakes. But just when I’m about to close the door on something (or the door closes on me), something happens.

Chances.

Looking for a job, grad schools, a car, really anything that can be looked for (my marbles?), it’s so easy to become discouraged. So many things seem just slightly out of my reach. I’m not quite good enough. And the thing is, that’s how it’s always going to be. But I am good enough. I know that. I just have to convince everyone else (or do I?). And while it’s easy to get frustrated at all the things I’m not quite ready for, the lyrics come back to my mind.

Chances lost are hope’s torn up pages

Maybe this time

Chances are we’ll be the combination

Chances come and carry me

Chances are waiting to be taken, and I can see

Chances are the fascinations

Chances won’t escape from me
Chances are only what we make them and all I need.