When I got married, one of my mum’s friends pulled me aside at my wedding reception and put her hands on my shoulders. “Goodbye Becca Bycott,” she said, looking deeply into my eyes, tears in hers. “Hello, Becca Ramspott.” I felt one door closing and another opening, just listening to her words.
Little did I know that 11 years later, I would have to re-open those doors and walk through them again, after an unpleasant ending with my ex-husband. I wasn’t sure how to carry myself across that threshold. By the time my marriage ended, I had built a solid career in communications under my married name. People knew me as “Becca Ramspott” from conferences I attended, presentations I gave, blogs I wrote. It seemed awkward, spelling out that I had gotten divorced by changing my name. But I also felt that leaving a failed marriage wasn’t something to be ashamed of, no matter how hard it was to say it online. Was there a creative and positive way to go back to “Becca Bycott” and let people know about it?
I decided reclaiming my maiden name would have to be a gradual and deliberate process. First, I wanted it to be legally changed, with a new social security card and everything, before I made it “Facebook official” that I was divorced. It had to be the real deal. Secondly, I didn’t want my announcement on social media to be just about my name. I wanted it to be part of something bigger and more universal that people could relate to. Finally, my name change would be an assertive, creative statement, not something apologetic or sad.
My writer friends had been after me to debut Bride In Reverse on my personal social media, and I was shy and kept resisting. But getting rid of my married name and going back to my maiden one … what could be more Bride in Reverse than that? It seemed like the perfect time to finally share this blog with friends and family on social media. There was this idea I had for a new blog post about music and ending relationships. The night after my social security card arrived in the mail, I sat down and finally typed it out. “Breaking Up (With Music) Is Hard to Do” was steeped in nostalgia and heartbreak — everyone had songs they associated with their past relationships. It was something relatable I could share with people, in addition to my name change. Here’s how I finally debuted it all on Facebook:
Comments started popping up from friends and family discovering the blog for the first time. They had a lot of supportive things to say about my name change and my writing. I was glad I put myself out there.
In the spirit of social media marketing, on a whim I decided a tongue-in-cheeky Throwback Thursday needed to happen as well. Here’s what I shared on Twitter, something I recreated as a screenshot I posted on my Instagram:
And last but not least, I needed to finally identify myself here. This blog post you’re reading is the first time I’ve shared my name on Bride In Reverse. Rather than adding a byline right away, I made adding my name on here a reiteration of one of my favorite ideas about personal branding: that it’s always more useful and interesting to share something personal in a way that helps and inspires people.
I don’t know if how I debuted my name change on social media would work for everyone, but I do know this: Failure is powerful. We often aren’t sure how to talk about failure online, let alone in person. Social media can mislead us into thinking we need to gloss over our gritty realities with photos and filters and emoticons. But the truth is we’re all flawed human beings who go through good times as well as really bad ones at different points in our lives. People go nuts whenever their friends announce on social media that they’re engaged, or having a baby, or starting a new job. Divorce is a a tougher sell, but equally worthy of recognition and support.
There are few things that are as brave… or as humbling… as realizing your choices weren’t the best ones and being honest about that fact. And deciding to start over — that’s not a failure, that’s an act of courage. You need people to rally around you and remind you you’re on the right path. Social media, when done well, is a way you can do that, as part of re-branding yourself.
How have you dealt with ending a relationship and being public about it on social media? I’d love to learn and hear from other people who are figuring this out. Share your insights in a comment below.
This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. For more from author Becca, follow her blog Bride in Reverse here.
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