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What’s in a Name? - Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist
abmann
abmann
What’s in a Name?

When my girlfriend and I broke up this year after nearly ten years, it was a bit of a wake up call. We ended our romantic relationship as entirely different people than those we were in college. (It happens and I feel a very healthy thing too.) It made me realize that, while I felt like a different person, I didn’t really understand who I was.

Too, I’ve been renegaged (unabashedly) in the kink scene in town, which is the second time around. Before, I was a nascent college graduate and was wildly searching for anything to grasp. I didn’t have many interests, friends or identifying characteristics; I didn’t really get life, the universe and everything. I was an über gaming geek in college and vaguely unwedded to both my majors. When I left that, all I had was my job, my cats and my girlfriend in a little apartment in rural Wisconsin.

Obviously, the first thing you do is open your relationship, jump into kink, and clench double-fisted to any relatively curious LiveJournal-er you found. I have come to understand that I was looking more for who I was than friends or women or kink.

Thing is, the identity I have for myself is the same. It has evolved a little bit – Angrybunnyman to ABMann – but it resonates so much of who I was and…. I’m not sure if it is right anymore.

First: there’s all that history. I registered AngryBunnyMan on June 5th, 2003 after an acquaintance of mine gave me an invite. LJ used to be all exclusive N’ Shit. I’ve been posting regularly for most of that time, including a full book of poetry written in the fall of 2004. There’s the learning process of all that photography and photoshop. Pretty much, there’s everything that has lead to Me today.

Second: there’s the psychic baggage. There’s the headstrong and socially unaware LJ commenter who used ASCII art in lieu of any thought. There’s the dude who got offended when Graydancer complimented a Matanawa tie (dude, don’t ask me how that logiced in my brain). There was, in short, the guy who had No Idea and to this day I still get pangs or regret from it. It’s part of how my shame response works, which is a entry unto itself, and part I never apologized for a number of those things.

The desire for a new start is strong. The desire to wash away all the shame and history and recreate myself is intoxicating.

In part I fear that I am less desirable a friend, lover, or play partner with all the ridiculousness, all the demons lined up behind me. In part, I can’t overcome the shame of so many demonstrably inane things that only I remember. In part, it is a focus and reason to truly redefine everything I am now.

And is it really worth it? The Internet is permanent and enduring in such odd ways. It is so easy to search and find almost anything about a person – I can still find a shitty book review I wrote years ago for a book now out of print nearly a decade. The link between my name now and what is yet un-denoted is already forming.

Is it worth denying any if what I was? Is it worth it, breaking any links or chains?

Will it actually make a difference creating a me tomorrow?

 

Originally published at Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist. You can comment here or there.

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Comments
lerite From: lerite Date: April 10th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Everyone has that line of demons behind them, you know. It's tempting to try to cut them loose, but the attempt is all too likely to take a number and join them. What earns people's true respect isn't being without flaws. It's manning up and wearing your name proudly anyway.

That said, you can sometimes go explore somewhere new for a while that you couldn't with your past associations on your heels. You just have to remember that they will catch up, so the new thing's permanence had better not depend on their permanent absence.

Or maybe you shouldn't trust this advice from someone who's lived in the same city all her life.
abmann From: abmann Date: April 10th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I've had success cutting cutting things off before. Few people now know anything about who I was in high school. Granted nobody from high school exists in my life now.

But we: high school. Primordial human beings, the lot of them.
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: April 10th, 2012 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I tend to agree with lerite. You could change the name, but it would eventually somehow catch up to you. Not that that would necessarily be bad, just something to be prepared for.</p>

Me.. I prefer to keep my names and just act according to who I am now. Anyone who's going to judge me on my past is likely not worth my time... And as you said, it all works to inform who I am now.

You need to do what feels right for you. Whether it be shedding the skin/name or just evolving it.

abmann From: abmann Date: April 10th, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that's where I'm landing, that I just need to make peace with my past. The people that will matter more to me will not discount me for any silly thing from yesterday.

Of note - very few of all of the people we knew in the early years in Madison are still around. Many are un-missed. :)
tyskkvinna From: tyskkvinna Date: April 10th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I recently had a moment where I just looked up and rummaged through who I've been for the past 10 years... amazing how much we change. A large part of me wants to purge it entirely, pretend it never happened. But then I realise that my closest friends are also nothing like who they were when I met them. I remember them in their awkward, awful times and I still love them... and ten years ago I thought I was just as awesome as I think I am now, so another part of me shudders in fear at what I'll think in another ten years...
abmann From: abmann Date: April 10th, 2012 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I think our definitions of awesome become better articulated and rounded. They stand up to time better. There are things that I used to do or be that still matter and make me a better person now.

I can't get over my writing style from the first few years of entries. So... flowery and inefficient. :) Though I still like quite a bit of the poetry I was writing and wonder why I really stopped.

What did you find in your rummage?
tyskkvinna From: tyskkvinna Date: April 10th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I agree. It's really hard to compare how I feel about myself now vs. how I felt about myself then because I have a much more matured set of rules to judge myself on now.

I found that I really had no idea what I was doing. Or what I wanted. Or what made me happy. Or anything. I would bounce from thing to thing but nothing stuck, probably because I didn't put in the effort to actually master anything. This applies to people, jobs, hobbies, etc.

A lot of me is the same as I was.. in some cases that's good and in some cases I need to work on it more.
thegelf From: thegelf Date: April 11th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
No matter what you cut off, what names you keep or change, or who you become outwardly, it doesn't eliminate guilt or embarassment over previous selves' actions. I still feel like an ass over things I've done over a decade ago. All I can do is let current-self make amends for previous-self, and hope that future-self has fewer new things to make amends for. I guess in some ways the internet is like a conscience: you can't escape either of them.

Labels have never meant much to me, it's your actions under whatever name you choose that matter. ABMann can be whoever you want him to be, and do whatever you want him to do. He's not stuck in any one persona. And if the name no longer fits, find a new one. But not because the history of the previous name feels too weighty.
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