COLUMN: Same person, but with a new name

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By Shannon Brock

I'm writing this column three days before my wedding knowing that when it runs I'll be four days into my honeymoon on the shores of sunny North Carolina. But if you'll notice, because you are reading it after the wedding, my byline has changed.

For all legal purposes, I'll adopt the last name Brock and attempt to let go of the surname I've carried with me for 23 years. But, for the purposes of this newspaper, I'm just going to tack "Brock" onto what you've been used to seeing. Everyone likes a little consistency. Besides, I don't need anyone thinking they'll be dealing with someone new - you're not that lucky. No, Anderson Countians, you'll have to put up with me a bit longer.

When you think about it, names are funny things. Our family names are a given, and then our family gives us a name by which we are known for the rest our lives. Legally, you can change your name once you reach a certain age if you don't like it. But a good majority of us don't, thus we have no say in the number one thing that people know about us.

I think, for the most part, I've come to like the name Shannon. I didn't care for it so much when I was younger, but now I can't imagine being called anything else. But I've always loved the last name Mason. It was simple, it flowed well with Shannon and, most of all, it was a constant part of my father and his family that I always had with me.

My parents said they named me Shannon because they liked it and they hadn't really heard the name before. However, when I started kindergarten, I quickly became best friends with a girl in my class whose name was also Shannon. I've met other Shannons along the way, through cheerleading, school and even working here in Lawrenceburg.

As several of you here found out, for a while there were two Shannons in our office. And sometimes, you'd call for one and get the other. No big deal.

Someone eventually figured out you needed Shannon Carlson instead of Shannon Mason. But in instances like these, you find out just how important your last name is.

In my family, being Shannon set me apart from everyone else. But to the rest of the world, being Shannon Mason was the distinguishing factor.

But I'm not Shannon Mason any more.

I'm sure it will be interesting to learn how to be the same person with a different name. Obviously, it's doable. Most every female does it. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy.

I'm ecstatic to finally be a "Brock girl" - an addition to many in this family, mind you. It's a strong last name, and I love everything that comes with it, but at heart, I'll always be part Mason.

Recently, I had a discussion with two of my married friends as to how they wanted their names printed in the programs for my wedding. My best friend, Katie, who was just married July 5, said: "If you have room for it, put the 'Canterbury' in there, because nobody knows who Katie Tackett is." My friend April Bailey Huff agreed.

There's a lot of truth in that. In a way, it's the same thing I wrote earlier - it helps avoid confusion by maintaining consistency. By keeping the old name visible, at least for a little while, others can still recognize who you are.

But part of keeping the "Mason" around for me is so that I can recognize myself.