Friday, January 11, 2008

Alter Egos

As I walk through the customer service department at my work, I’m greeted with “Hi, Keisha.” At derby, it’s “Cindy” or “Ms. Lop-her.” When I’m with some old college buddies, it’s “Bone” (or sometimes “T-Bone the Meat Inspector”), and at home it’s just “Tara.” It’s fun to be called so many different names in the course of a day or a week. But who am I really?

Yesterday I was sitting in a coworker’s office, and she referred to our fellow coworker, Kevin, as “Special K,” which I thought was funny because the guy is somewhat “special” – just yesterday he said in an e-mail that he wanted to “crawl in a whole and hide.” Misuse of the word “whole,” instead of “hole” could be commonplace in other companies, but we work for a publisher. As I started to joke my coworker about Kevin being “special,” indeed, she informed me that “Special K” was his “cereal name,” and hadn’t they given me a cereal name? Unfortunately, I missed that memo. I don’t have a cereal name. I do, however, have a “ghetto name”: Keisha Champale (it’s funny, because I’m white). Sometimes they throw in a middle name to make it Keisha Shabooty Champale, because I have a “ghetto booty.”

It took me a while to get used to “Cindy.” For a long time I wouldn’t even realize people were talking to me, but I’m accustomed to it now. I always fall into a conundrum though when communicating to derby vendors or potential sponsors – do I use “Cindy Lop-her” or “Tara Gebhardt”? Part of me feels strange conducting business and not giving people my real name, but the other part of me feels odd about not using my derby name when, in fact, I’m conducting derby business. Ultimately, I sign things “Cindy Lop-her (aka, Tara Gebhardt),” and if they start addressing me as “Tara,” I start signing “Tara.” It always makes for good conversation, however, because everyone I come into contact with on behalf of derby wants their own derby name and seems to have fun dreaming up what it would be. That’s not too much of a stretch though – why wouldn’t you want to rename yourself?

Being able to assume your own alter ego is somewhat empowering. Okay, scratch “somewhat,” it IS empowering. It’s the one time you get to redefine how others see you. Do you want to be tough? Cute? Sexy? Funny? You decide.

I think we sometimes fall into playing these roles that other people assign us. I’ve talked about this before, in a previous blog, but I think it warrants revisiting. The problem is that we sometimes get stuck in these roles, and then time passes and we don’t know who we are anymore, we seem to have lost our way, or we no longer like ourselves. So why not reinvent yourself with an alter ego? You don’t need to be in derby to do it. Heck, people actually do this all the time, just on a smaller scale. Remember that series of commercials for Vegas where the vacationers use fake names – a different one each night? Or the women who switch wigs in the bathroom?

It’s fun to get away from yourself for a bit – whether you’re a racecar-driving lawyer while vacationing in Vegas, a rollergirl, or a person taking dance or pottery classes. I think this need to get away from ourselves is indicative of how complex we are as people. We crave change and betterment. Your name may not be Monet, but you may be an artist twice a week when you attend a drawing class. Broading your horizons enriches who you are, and eventually that person you want to be actually becomes part of you.

So, if you’re bored with the everyday, change it. Take control, and assign your own identity. Like the old farts who wrote the CSI theme songs wrote, “Who are you?”. And, yes, I do realize The Who was a band way before CSI took over all US cities and timeslots on network TV.

So, who am I? I'm all of the above and perhaps then some, and it's fun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's totally use fake names/occupations/lives while we're in Vegas!!!