"That's cool," said The Fella. "I get it."
And then he said, "Do you think you'll change your name back?"
"Oh. Huh," I said. "Yeah."
I got divorced seven years ago. Divorce years, though, are like dog years: they're longer than 365 days of emotional angst. They're each about seventeen years long. Which, if you do the math,* means I've been wearing a name that I don't enjoy or want to keep for a loooooong time.
The reasons I didn't change my name earlier are both situational and anxiety related. Situational as in I kept having plane tickets and travel plans that required identification. Anxiety related as the task seemed really big and overwhelming. If you've never changed your name, you may not have considered how many things you have to shift and change with the alteration of your last name.
If you have... Well. It's a lot. It's a lot of a lot. And because I'm a considerer, it became a gigantic task in my head, one that I couldn't get around.
So. Seven years.
I should probably add here that having a name that you have grown to hate but also feel stuck with? Kind of sucks. A lot. It's destabilizing. It doesn't help you to know yourself better, that's for sure.
I wanted to get rid of the name, but I couldn't find my way to it. It was too big a job. That was all there was to it.
Until there was more.
"Look," The Fella said. "You get to be who you want. Do you want to be Danielle Hayes again?"
Sometimes, the ability to change -- the courage to change -- comes from places you don't expect. It can come after you've given up on an idea or have decided that something is too difficult.
It can come when someone tells you that who you are -- who you were -- is awesome and deserves reclamation. When they remind you that you have never been better than when you are truly and completely yourself, and that part of that means shedding a name you hate and re-naming yourself appropriately.
"You know what? I do," I said.
Which is how I found myself sitting in the social security office last week.
*I am not doing this math. Because math.