Kristy D. Bock

What is in a name?

Picture this: You’ve been excitedly planning your first-ever cruise for months. You’ve picked out your outfits, researched shore excursions, and made a packing list. But as you gather the necessary documents to prove your citizenship, you make a startling discovery – your legal name is not the one you’ve been using your entire life.

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I’ve spent my whole life believing I shared my father’s last name when my legal name was the surname my mother was born with.

The Investigation

After countless phone calls investigating why I thought my name was Bock, the answer came down to a clerical error. I discovered it wasn’t my parents’ fault, which had been my first assumption. Turns out, it was the Social Security Administration. When I applied for my daughter’s social security card in 1995, the Social Security Administration unilaterally changed my last name to match that of what I put for my daughter, with the assumption that I got married. They did this without any paperwork to back it up. 

I’ve spent my whole life believing I shared my father’s last name when my legal name was the surname my mother was born with.

Author Kristy D. Bock

The Dilemma

Most women who plan to get married have researched what they will have to do if they choose to change their names. The hilarity of this situation is that I would not have changed my name when I got married. The tradition of women changing their last names to match their husbands has its origins in the property transfer that took place upon marriage, so I cannot see myself taking his last name. Instead, I changed it to go on a cruise.

While who I am hasn’t changed, it is an overwhelming feeling not to know my name. Four letters, that no one ever spelled correctly, meant more to me than I would have thought initially. It’s just a name. Women change their name as a practiced social custom all the time. While it feels like I’ve lost my identity, I’ve just stepped into who I was always supposed to be. 

The Aftermath

Everything I’ve ever written, such as books, news articles, blogs, and publications has all bore the last name Bock. It’s not abnormal for authors to have a pen name, which means I could feasibly keep the name Bock for my writing. This would prevent me from changing everything from websites to social media. For local news, trust and credibility are a requirement. It would feel false to write under a name I no longer have. 

If the documents do not come in the mail by the time we leave for the cruise, I won’t be able to go. The concept of going through all this for three nights on a boat is a bit ridiculous, but it would have caught up with me either way if I wanted to get a Real ID or a passport. 

To answer my question: What is in a name? Everything. Our entire identity is wrapped up in the names given to us by our parents. In the end, I should take this time to reintroduce myself. 

Hello, my name is Kristy Denice Kelly. 

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