Have you ever thought of changing your name? Do you like it? If so, was it always the case? Once in a while I come back to thinking about my name. I didn’t like it when I was younger. I wanted to be called Ulya or Sonya. Ulya was the name of my great grandmother, Sonya - is my grandmother’s name. I don’t think that the fact that these names where in the family made me like them. But perhaps there is something to it. I always wanted to have grey hair and was excited about getting old. But that is another story, today the focus if on the names. There was something with my name that I couldn’t connect with. It didn’t feel right. Fair to say many things didn’t felt right when I was growing up. I felt pretty uncomfortable in my body and couldn’t cope with the expectations environment had for me. I had unsettling, wild and rather scattered adolescence period in which I was known under several nicknames.
There were multiple names that felt fitting in different moments of my life. Chatting on the internet was becoming a thing and the requirement to come up with a new name for yourself gave the boost of a new self-reflective energy. There were two names that stuck for longer periods. One was Papra, short from Paprika, my icq nickname, I got when I was about 13. I kept this name for a very long time and it is still alive in certain contexts. And the second was Lola, it was accompanying my joyful hippy lifestyle spiced with Soviet rock music aesthetics. Both Papra and Lola existed simultaneously but were circulating in different contexts. When I moved to the Netherlands, due to practical considerations, my real name also underwent transformations. I changed how it looked and sounded. Both my first name and family name became something different. I liked the confusion that I caused, evoking a slight disorientation when people encountered it. This new name also came with a change in how I looked and how I felt. Some people don’t recognise me when I go back to Ukraine, not because they don’t remember but because they don’t know me now. Perhaps it sounds too simplistic to look for a remedy in name-changing but I feel there is something magical to the process. For me, a new name feels like expansion to new grounds, which always were there but I never visited.
The other day I was going through a light trance experience where I had a voice dialogue between conflicting parts within myself. In the sate of deep relaxation, you allow everything that wants to come out just leave your mouth and become words. These two characters I met were Sara and Io. Sara is the caretaker and the worried type. The one who is responsible for my fears and anxieties, protecting me from the contrastingly playful and fearless Io. It was an interesting experience to allow these voices to talk to each other. Both are me obviously, but what I realised is that when I reflect upon my behaviour these two are not working together. It is either one or the other. The idea of this exercise is to integrate both and realise there is only one voice that can shift perspectives and be flexible in the reactions.
I do lean towards Io, I must admit. In the state of being she brings me to, I feel pleasant, confident and at home. Despite the fact that my fearful and protective side is very useful, I dislike it. I push it away as something undesirable. I don’t want to need protection, I want to handle everything myself. I think there is a deep truth hidden underneath this rejection of help to myself. That is also reflected in how I accept help from others. I find it difficult to take what is given to me, and I feel that the distance that is being created as a consequence of such attitude doesn’t serve me well. Especially now when I feel strongly how the ability to take is essential to the process of giving. I must find a way to like the caring part in myself.
All the names I keep on inventing are wonderful tools to calibrate myself towards the environment and my inner state of being. I am excited about the possibility of changing my name when I feel the urge to spend some time with a side of my personalty that wasn’t active due to various reasons. It is like visiting another city on the map. You stay there and then you move to the next one. At the moment Io, the playful hungry ghost, is driving me towards the unknown. I give in to her magic and follow my daimon.
Play with me. Chose another name for yourself. What would you like to be called? Carry this thought today, observe what this inquiry brings you. Isn’t it a fun activity to be busy with?