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5 Thing I Didn't Expect When I Hyphenated My Name



By Lucy Ford-Williams

I was the typical girl who dreamed of a fairytale wedding and practiced my signature in English class when I was supposed to be writing essays. The name? Whoever was the crush at the time. I also did those number games where you take the letters of your combined names and add them up for your compatibility score. Remember those?

So my name. It was a given since I was in high school that I would take on my husband's name. I don't know why, it just was, and I was happy.

It didn't actually occur to me until a month out from my wedding that this might be a problem. I had a successful PR career where clients would ask for me by name. My name was known in the industry. I was a big up and coming thing. And people knew of me because of my name. My name! The name that I was about to change! What would happen if I was no longer Lucy Williams? Would my clients get confused and dump me? Would I still be invited to speaking engagements? Would google know to swap over my old name for the new one?

I love the sound of Lucy Ford. Sounded better than Williams, especially from a professional view, in my opinion. But I was torn. What to do.

I broached this subject with my fiance one sunny spring morning over eggs and bacon. He looked at me like he didn't understand the words that were coming out of my mouth. "But you're already calling yourself Lucy Ford..." He was right, I was. That fairytale daydreamer at it again. I tried to explain, and he just said, matter of factly "then hyphenate."

Yes! That's the answer! So easy! Why hadn't I thought of that. Lucy Ford-Williams. I *love* it.

I didn't give it another thought. Literally. And here are five lessons I learned because I didn't stop to think.

People judge you based on your hyphen.

In professional circles this is great. My name gives me cred, and my current clients didn't think anything of the little change to the signature at the bottom of my email. Does my hyphen make me seem more educated? More professional? Possibly.

But in personal circles, I've seen more raised eyebrows in the last year than in the whole of my previous non-hyphenated life.

You know what? If I kept my maiden name I bet there would be even more judgement. We can't win, can we.

People don't 'get' the hyphen.

And when I say "people" I mean anyone who works in a customer service position. Judging by some of the reactions I've had you'd think I'm the first person ever to hyphenate my name. But no, I didn't invent the concept. I can't take credit for the hyphen. And it's not like I've got a super huge and difficult name to spell. But when I've got into libraries and doctor's surgeries to change my name, I start spelling it out and the person behind the desk kind of freezes. Like they don't understand what they've got to do with the hyphen. Like they need a few minutes to think about it.

It's hard to spell your name over the phone.

Kind of like the "people don't get it" point. When I changed my phone plan, and I did it over the phone and then got my new contract emailed to me. My name was "Lucy Ford Hyphen Williams".  No joke.

For convenience sometimes I just use one name.

Yes, with some long time clients I'm still Lucy Ford, even though my email signature and business cards say otherwise. I guess some people just don't notice and when they drop the Williams I guess I just go with it. I wonder if I would do the same if I hadn't hyphenated and had taken my husband's name?

I get to have both names!

Seriously I get the best of both worlds and get to use both names forever. I get to keep my name, and have my husbands, name, and I really don't see how it can get any better than that.



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