Swanson -> Hogan
tl;dr: My given name is Lara Callender Hogan. A while ago, I got married, and changed my name to Lara Callender Swanson. I was divorced two years ago, and have recently decided to go back to Hogan. I still answer to “SWANSON!” :)
Name changes can be surprisingly heavy and easy at the same time. One day, after many months of thinking it through, I woke up, looked in the mirror and said, “Yeah, you’re Lara Hogan”. And yet, changing one’s name carries a kind of weight that many people I know haven’t ever had to consider for themselves.
For me, I ended up weighing a mix of personal and professional pros and cons:
- Would the SEO (and… “brand”… vomit) I’ve built up with Swanson transfer to Hogan?
- Would I have to explain to strangers why my name is different than when they started following me on Twitter?
- Can I change it in time for my book to be published?
- How easy is it to change my domain name and Twitter handle?
- How easy is it to change my name legally in New York City?
- Will people invent reasons about why my name changed instead of asking me?
Thinking back, when I got married, switching to Swanson felt natural. I loved my new name, and it matched who I felt I was. When I was (amicably) divorced, the same was true: I still felt like Lara Swanson, and since it was how I was known professionally, I decided to stay Lara Swanson.
The book prompted me to revisit this question two years post-divorce. I was starting to feel like I was Lara Hogan, not Lara Swanson. Still friends with my former husband, I picked his brain about it. He was incredibly supportive regardless of what I decided to do, and articulated the decision better than I could:
“PLEASE do whatever feels best for you and your future! I am 100% behind you no matter what you decide… You are the best possible blend of Callender and Hogan and have every right to be proud of that!”
Heck yeah. And then that day came, with the mirror, when I recognized who I was. The pros and cons that I was weighing all fell away. One of my mentors expressed concern: “But what about your brand? But what about those other reasons you were weighing?” I realized that those concerns didn’t matter to me anymore. My name will reflect who I am. And with that, my name change became much lighter for me.
One thing I’ve loved about this whole journey is getting to talk about names and how truly weird they are with the people in my life. My leadership coach Jen Dary has been invaluable through these meanderings and questions and figuring out how to weigh personal stuff with the professional. Hilary Parker indulged me in some lengthy conversations about how her mother worked through similar decisions. Annika Backstrom opened my mind a ton to things she’d already considered about last-name-name-changes because the patriarchy.
I still love (and answer to) “SWANSON!”. There will still be a ton of stuff online that calls me “Lara Swanson” and I’m totally cool with that. We will be updating the book to Hogan (thank you, Mary Treseler!) before it gets published. There will still be awkward moments about it, and I’m at peace with that. I’m really happy with my decision, have zero doubts that this is the right one for me, and am actually excited about going to all these government agency offices and updating this thing literally everywhere.