Identity

Since I started this website, almost a full year ago now, I have written under a pseudonym. Selene was my moniker and it really isn’t that far-off from who I am—it is my middle name. But, I used it as a way to crawl into a new identity, one not associated with my software programmer side. It was a way to explore writing, a way to remain anonymous to all the people I knew in real life. It allowed me to write words I wouldn’t have written had I known that friends and family would read it.

I used that pseudonym as a talisman, protection against rebuttal or refute or anger and lashing out against the words I wrote. It protected me from having to watch what words I wrote. If I wanted to talk about my employer, I could. If I wanted to recount stories from my past that others remembered differently, there wouldn’t be opposition. Now that I put these words down here, it is apparent that I used my pseudoynm as a way to not be accountable. It was—is—the coward’s way to write.

Well, perhaps not entirely. There is real danger in words and what we put out into the world. Three women come to mind (Zoë Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu), and were on my mind when I decided to go by my middle name. If I were to write my truth and put my thoughts out into the world, I wanted some sort of protection. I wanted to be able to live my life, in the real world, without having to worry about hidden interent monsters attacking in the 3D world.

This fear only felt more real after Trump was elected. All the gains that women, people of color, LGBT people or anyone that was considered a minority, seemed to evaporate overnight. For the past two years, I—and I think most people of my temperment and belief system—have had a low-grade fever of fear permeating each and every day. “Is this my country?” is something I often think after reading the home page of The New York Times. So, I can forgive myself for wanting to mask my words with a sort-of made up version of myself. I can’t fault myself for being human, for wanting to mitigate fear.

Why claim my identity now? Why change all my accounts associated with Wild Mind from Selene to Nicole, my first name? Because words matter. My thoughts matter. Owning my words and thoughts though are even more important. This I am finally realizing. As I wrote in my last post, I have a lot of shame. But I’m not going to move past it—or just learn to live with it—without owning it, without owning all of me. I have to love the good bits, that bad bits, and the horribly ugly bits, the pieces of myself that make me cringe and cry and fall apart. I can’t schism off the pieces I like from the pieces I don’t. That’s not how this works, is it?

The funny—maybe disheartening—thing is that no one reads this site. My fears when starting this website were bigger than necessary. Having no readership makes it easy to put words up, regardless of what name I used. But, I didn’t start this website to attract a following. I started it as a way to be accountable to the process of writing, to finishing a novel. I want my full name to be associated with that. I want to claim ownership of those words, of all my words. I want to stand proudly behind the sentences and paragraphs I write, even if the content scares me or offends others. I need to live up to the tough girl persona I like to pretend I have.