I thought a lot about writing online, under real names and under pseudonyms. I wanted–needed–to write anonymously in my first space. That blog was about processing my loss and struggles to get pregnant and it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to share it with the people in my life, but that I felt they’d fault me for needing to even say it. So I wrote under an assumed name, to protect myself and the people who loved me.
I created an identity for myself in that space, under that name. I don’t think I realized how much it meant to me until I decided to let it go.
I also tried to write under my real name. I created a space and invited those I knew to read there. But as a teacher I felt trapped posting under my real name. There was so much I couldn’t say when I knew my students might find it. I felt silenced by their maybe some day searching for me.
So I created this new space, under a third name. I thought I understood my motives for shedding my original anonymous identity and starting fresh, but as I embark on the actual shedding, I’m not so sure.
Yesterday I started commenting under my new nom de plum. In the comment boxes of the blogs I’ve read for years I erased my old identity and typed in my new one. Who is this person I’m letting go? Who is this person I’m creating in her place?
We can never present all of ourselves in any one place or with any one person. In the first few years writing on my anonymous blog, I believed the woman portrayed was the more accurate representation, a more honest account than what I presented to the real world. Over time I came to understand that she was not a clearer reflection of who I was, just a window into a certain part of me I didn’t feel I could share anywhere else.
I think that ultimately I’m leaving that persona behind because those parts of myself don’t need to be shared as much anymore. I can incorporate those pieces into a greater whole, which I hope will give them more perspective.
I believed my old space was borne of honesty, authenticity and truth–and I hope that it was–but I never recognized that behind all of it was an overwhelming need that I couldn’t control. I was driven to write there, and not always for the right reasons; fear colored a lot of those words. I hope to come to this space with more deliberate intention, to be motivated by forces more productive than hurt or fear.
Erasing my old moniker in familiar comment boxes can feel like starting over, and it is in a way, but I know better than to think I can leave the person I was behind. I invited everyone who knew me there to read me here and they won’t forget who I was before.
And honestly? I don’t really want them to.
What does your writing identity mean to you? Have you ever considered changing it?