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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

left behind

I have had this crazy idea since I was 14; changing my name. It started with wanting to add an e at the end of my name. Mom was insensed that I would do so since that was my aunts name. That was one reason I wanted to do it. And why would she have a problem with honoring her sister? found out later but that is for another post. By the end of highschool my reasons expanded.
My first name is Sherry. Great name since, as I said before, it means "beloved". However not so great when Frankie Valli has immortalized it in a higpitched pleaing song. Then, horror of horrors Steve Perry pops out another little ditty. The superficiality of people with poor judgement in humor aside, I had other reasons. By the time I was ten I had come to dread hearing my name. Full or just the first name it didn't matter. My name had become a curse in our house. And I couldn't stand it. But what would have been a better name?
I had always wanted to be a boy. I thought it would have made dad happier. And I liked Jo from Little Women. And Joe was my best friend's name. But Joe wasn't right for me. And the more names I looked at the less I could find one that seemed like enough to me to change it. In the back of my head I still have this furtive plan to change my name as soon as I can find the money. Until recently I didn't know what to change it to. And I didn't know if I could accept my new name. After all this time I am still Sherry. So how do we identify ourselves?
I wouldn't be thinking about it if I had been on something called yoville yesterday. A friend invited me to play on facebook. You build an avatar and live a virtual life in YoVille. I built my avatar to look as much like me as the options would allow. So now I look like Madonna. I chose a name. It is the nickname my sister gave me when we lived in Marquette. How comfortable am I walking around town with a name that isn't mine? I can interact with any avatar I see so the name has to feel okay. And then there is this thing called Twitter.
It seems, as with all sorts of sites you build for interaction, we build and rebuild our identities all the time. My blog, my email, my facebook and twitter all have different identities, as do the dating sites I am on. The more I am out there, avoiding my brother and trying to become traceless in his world so that I can be the real me in mine, the easier it is to recognize another me. I feel more comfortable in other skins.
But how can that be? How can we have so many identities to be comfortable in? Jews have a habit of changing names with life issues. Government registrations & social security issues make it a sticky wicket to navigate. But maybe this tradition is there because they know something that the rest of us don't know. Maybe, as with Avram and Sarai, we were meant to wear a new name to match the new hat. I felt stupid chosing glyphgeek as my twitter handle because it wasn't me. But why would I chose that as an identity if it wasn't me? So it must be me. And indeed it is. What allows me to be this person?
It is a reflection of a part of me that I didn't share with anyone. Glyph reflects my interest in Stargate, mayan and egyptian heiroglyphs [see what I did there] and geek is obviously the best choice as a descriptor because that is what I am. And I have noticed over the course of the last few weeks that I am so comfortable with my twitter name that I have to stop myself from saying @glyphgeek when introducing myself. This techno world has opened my up to myself because there is no judgement.
Well there is. But this is the most democratic social form because it truly underscores the axiom if you don't like it turn it off. People will start to follow me on twitter for what ever reason. If they become bored with me or angry about what I say they can leave my follow list and never hear from me again. And it happens. It has happened a lot. And I have felt bad. But then more people join my feeds to take their place. They stick around. And those that stick around are growing a community of kindred spirits, developing friendships.
If you made a Venn diagram of the people I follow and who follow me and we follow each other, we find in the overlapping areas of interest a list of connecting points. Those points are descriptions of parts of my personality, parts of who they are. And in that distillation I find that my truest identity is glyphgeek. It is the skin I feel most comfortable in. It is a name completely and uniquely my own. And my tweeps are now calling me "glyph".
I am glad that I can finally settle into myself. I wish other people could do that with as much certainty as I have found for myself. And I wish that I didn't have to do it at the expense of people who were supposed to be my rock and foundation. But they chose to judge, control and attempt to destroy. I have no choice but to leave them behind.

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