Is that my name?

Last week, I listened to director/artist Terence Nance speak about his style on the podcast StylelikeU and his comment on invention and reinvention struck me. In the context of speaking about his childhood, specifically in his toddler years, Nance revealed that he had trouble answering to his name.

He went on to talk about how he thought his body was not his and his name was also not his, and it made me think about identity. Who defines us? Do we have the power to redefine ourselves?

Something as simple as a name can mean so much to people. Those of us who answer to our birth names have found some sort of value in the original meaning of the name or have shaped the meaning of the name to align with their definition of themselves.

Before accepting my name as an extension of my identity, I disliked it. I envied the girls who had names that allowed them to have a cool nickname. I thought that it was powerful to tell people to call you something other than the name that you were born with...like they took control of their identity.

Peers who had nicknames seemed more confident, a little extroverted, and well-liked by others around them. I wanted that confidence that my nick-named peers had.

I learned that the grass is not always greener. Some people have nick-named themselves because they did not think their name fit their identity. Perhaps the names that we answer to have nothing to do with our identities.

No matter where you are in life, you have the power to define or redefine yourself based on your values or interests or cultures, and your name is only part of that definition.

With every experience, every hardship, or article of clothing, your identity is already evolving. It is okay to want to reinvent yourself. It is okay to want to rename yourself. Your identity is yours.