Conforming to social norms always makes me claustrophobic and makes me feel like I am a potato sitting in a sack with all the other potatoes! Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes and I feel very secure in the knowledge that all potatoes offer the same carby satisfaction when I need a potato fix!
But I don’t know how to be that potato, and don’t care much for learning to be one.
Love is unreasonable, and even non-potatoes like me mindlessly succumb to societal conformities when they are in love. When I got married, like every other good Indian woman I adopted my husband’s surname, because if that isn’t a declaration of love then what is?
What’s in a name they say, but my new surname became my identity. I was known by that
name, it gave people a picture of the kind of person someone with a name like that should
be. My husband never cared much for my grand gesture of dropping my identity to start a new life with him; should probably have seen that as a sign amongst many more that presented themselves! 12 years went by and I morphed into the new married me, until cracks started to appear, and everything went pear-shaped.
Since before the actual separation I had been toying with the idea of going back to my
original surname, and slowly changed all my social media accounts to my maiden name. But I just couldn’t bring myself to get my name changed at work, that would be a declaration of the recent change in my life and I just wasn’t ready to do that yet. I just didn’t feel ready for the inquisitive looks and misplaced sympathy.
Then one day, I finally found the courage, and asked HR to change my email, signature and the lot to my maiden name at work. It was a 2-line email, but took a lot of courage to write and send. A lot of shame, embarrassment and guilt was followed by a sense of freedom as I cut another tie from my past life, to build my new identity.
It is just a name, but as time goes by so much gets attributed to that name. I wasn’t assumed to be a wife, or a daughter-in-law or a part of a certain community anymore.
It was time to believe in my Now and start investing in who I was going to be 5 to 10 years from today.