As soon as the ink dried on my Florida Bar License, that was it. I wanted to be Shannon Brooke Schott forever. When I met my now husband a year later, he had a head’s up that I would probably never change my name, but it wasn’t we were married that I made my position clear. The conversation then changed and people came out of the woodwork to change my mind.
I truly love being Shannon Schott (my parents did a great job naming me and voters love alliterations) . Even before I met my husband, I build a reputation in the legal community, in the Jacksonville community and within the organizations that I was a member of. So my name was hand in hand with my career to an extent.
At one point, I started the process, but learned that I could not keep my professional license as “Shannon Schott” and legally change my name to “Shannon Schott Rainka.” To add insult to injury, if I changed it, Plata Schott Law would cease to exist because according to The Florida Bar, the name Plata Schott Rainka “would imply someone works there who does not.” What? The names of dead men are on law firms all over the state. That angered me and made me less inclined to make any changes.
I became more firm and started to share my decision with others. I certainly want to be Mrs. Michael Rainka and my own parents did not know for years that it was never official. Growing up in a conservative, Southern community with lots of Christian friends, I was up against a lot: the Bible, traditions, the vocal opinions of others and most importantly the feelings of my husband.
It hurt my husband’s…feelings? pride? I at one point suggested that we make a new name together or hyphenate the two, but he was not excited about that idea. Today he has learned to accept it because he accepts me.
And for those of you who are wondering, my children have their father’s name and it does not bother me one bit that our last names are different.
Today, if you call me “Mrs. Rainka,” I will gladly respond. I am happy to be Mrs. Michael Rainka. So when I started to develop this blog and my personal brand, I wanted to honor my husband. His business domain is MakeItRainka.com, so I obviously became “Mrs. Make It Rainka.”
Changing your name, especially when you’ve already put yourself out into the world and made a name for yourself professional is really, really hard. The right choice is that choice that you feel more comfortable with. You should never feel guilted or shamed into making any decision especially one like this.