The Name Game

Women. We get married and change our names. Why? I did because Boll was easier to write on my checks than Sandvig.  Sandvig has a lot of swirls and dots. Boll has neither. But, when I changed my name, I lost my identity. I went from being “Arlo’s daughter” to “Mark’s wife”. Somehow, I never just got to be “Julie”. 

Have you ever tried to find a woman you knew from long ago and couldn’t because she got married and changed her name? She left her past and the girl she once was behind to be a whole different person: wife, mother.

Have you ever (as a married woman) been asked if you’re related to the Hankinson Bolls or the Otter Tail Bolls?  My answer was always, “I married a Boll. I’m a Sandvig. I’ve no clue who Bolls are related to and probably couldn’t tell you much about the Sandvigs either.” This response is what led to people irritatingly calling me “a feminist”. Like that was a terrible thing to be.

But, I was more proud of being a Sandvig than I was a Boll.  That’s what I grew up as.  I got married, changed my name because, in part, I wanted to stop being “Julie Sandvig”. There was a lot of pain associated with that name. But what happened was that, in an effort to lose my past, I also lost her future. I became someone’s wife rather than an autonomous Julie. I wanted to get away from who I was and become someone I thought might be better, but it was never better.

I went from belonging to my dad to belonging to my husband. I understand the name-change thing. You’re so in love that you want to take his name.  And that will always be your choice, but just don’t lose yourself when you take a different name.  

Over time, you realize that your name is unique to you. Your past has shaped your future no matter what name you decide to give yourself. 

My mom has been married 3 times and told me, “Julie, you can go by whatever name you choose. It doesn’t have to be your legal name. Changing your name is bullshit when you’re a woman. We never should have. I’ve been Sandvig longer than I’ve been anything else and I’m comfortable with it, even though I’m not married to your dad anymore. So, don’t worry about all the bullshit with changing your name legally. Just go by what you’d prefer.”

I bitch about my mom a lot, but damnit if that wasn’t the best advice. So, legally, I am Julie Boll. I go by Julie Sandvig. That was my name the longest and that’s what I’m comfortable with. I’m proud of my ancestry and I’m proud of being a Sandvig. 

But, damn if people still just don’t get it.

Don’t change your name unless you’re secure enough in your identity to keep being you with a different name. And I’m so proud to know married women who were strong enough to not bow down to the pressure and kept their own names. If I choose to do it again, I’ll keep the name I choose. My only regret is that “Madonna” and “Beyoncé” have been taken, because hell, if you can go by whatever name you want, those are good ones.

Rock on, ladies. Rock on. 

One thought on “The Name Game

  1. I kept mine when I married and have not regretted that decision for a second. At the same time, I love seeing cards come in the mail addressed to me with his last name. Once it was Mr and Ms my last name, and that was great too. 🙂


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