When asked for my name, I often seem to find myself annotating my name with a reference, usually to Wonderland. Why? Somehow, to me, my name alone doesn’t seem to have enough substance. Or rather it is my identity that hasn’t the presence and needs bolstering.
I have never known anyone else who does this. Which indicates both how much of a bad habit this is and how symbolic it is of the need for me to write this new series I am starting. An A to Z of who I am (a random but logical choice as any).
My identity has been something that I have always struggled with. I have come to feel that my lack of it is something which is holding me back at this present time. Its elusive nature stops me from believing in myself or truly committing to projects, because I haven’t a firm base on which to rely.
Writing about myself is an effort to open a conversation with those parts of me that are both obvious as well as hidden, subdued. To reveal what is within me and what is not. A side effect of this will be more practice and rhythm in my writing. Perhaps I will learn to trust and accept both myself and my writing a little more too.
So back to Alice. I am lucky that my name begins with A as a starting point for this series, a neatness that pleases me. Names are our identifiers and our immediate descriptors along with appearance when we first meet someone.
How does my name describe me? To myself? To others?
Despite using an Alice in Wonderland reference to identify myself, I only know the story in a fragmentary, although familiar way. So it is perhaps ironic that I feel intangible, incohesive to myself, as if slightly opaque.
As a child I resented my name, it seemed antiquated and boring in a sea of more ‘modern’ names. Although I rarely heard another child called by my name at the time, I now often hear it being called in playgrounds. As fashions have changed it has a classic albeit slightly grown-up feel to it.
The meaning of Alice is noble, which I have always dismissed, thinking of the rank and title definition. However in terms of character it implies honour and dignity, having principles and being outstanding; positive qualities indeed.
All those words sound as if they describe a self-assured person who knows exactly who they are. Maybe I appear that way to others, maybe I don’t. As much as I wish I was that person, I don’t feel that way inside.
All this is about my perceptions not others. When I consider other people’s names, it is in passing, rather than as defining. Names offer only a small clue to a person, and that which can be challenged at any point by their behaviour or story. My name doesn’t describe me to them. I am judging myself in a way that others are not.
My name, or more truthfully my identity, is like a dress that doesn’t quite fit. I am the girl who needs a ‘drink me’ potion and an ‘eat me’ cake to fit the story. Or maybe I just need to change my perceptions. This series is my way of addressing that.
Change comes from awareness. There are things I have realised already. Stop introducing myself as I have been. Recognise and accept myself as I am, have been and will be. Behave in the way that best represents my identity and character. I can do this.