Why I Lose My Mind Every Time We Have the Name Conversation

This post really grabbed my attention, because as a feminist-in-progress, the name thing is something that I know I’ll get the most push-back on. I waver back and forth: “It’s just a name, but it’s MY name, but does ANY name really define me?” And it was something that I really just left at that, focusing more on crimes against women and other patriarchal relics, until back in March when my boyfriend, who is a self-proclaimed feminist himself, said that he really would be offended if a woman didn’t take his name.
Now, we’ve been dating for all of seven months, so this was definitely more of an abstract conversation. But a small part of me was just crushed by that statement, and while I adore this guy, it’s something that’s been weighing on my mind since. My own views on name changes are somewhere in the vicinity of watery feminism, but to have a guy that I have so much respect for tell me that he’d be offended by a woman keeping her name? It was a little upsetting. I haven’t revisited the conversation (again, only seven months), but reading this has really helped me navigate the murky waters in my own head, so when it does come up again, maybe it’s something I can get to the bottom of.

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Try again!

I’ve had a lot of diaries, journals, and blogs in my day. I even had a brief attempt at vlogging (it only took about five minutes for me to realize that vlogging was not a medium for me; all evidence has been deleted). The problem is, I never stick to it. Starting a blog is like an exercise in futility, usually inspired by my inability to process some sort of major emotion. I try it for a while, thinking it’ll be cathartic; sometimes, for a short time, it is. Then I feel idiotic and shut the whole thing down and pretend it never happened–and that, friends, is my problem.

Feeling idiotic shouldn’t be a problem; being an idiot is being human. I ask you: what the hell is wrong with being human? Nothing–at least, there shouldn’t be. I’ve been slowly realizing that I’m really an extremely self-conscious, self-critical person. I know, I know–join the club, right? Billions of people the world over are that way. The problem is, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading feminist articles telling me to love me for myself and damn the societal beauty standards set on me, or to not care if I look like an idiot and just dance if I want to (and leave my friends behind… yeah, I went there). Every time I read one of these articles, I’m so inspired that I just can’t hold it in. Damn the beauty standards, I don’t need no stinking makeup! I’m going to dance if I want to! Somebody play some appropriately thematic music!

Then reality sets in, and I’m reminded of just how painfully self-conscious I am. I put the makeup on because I’m terrified that I won’t be listened to or taken seriously as a female without it. I sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else dance (that part I don’t mind as much, because I really don’t like dancing all that much; I’d rather sit and talk to the people around me) even when my friends push, hard, for me to dance. I never run, jump, skip, or play because I’m afraid my lack of coordination will show. I don’t make any potentially competitive statements–largely because I’m just not competitive, but a small part of me is afraid that I’ll fail.

This reminder of just how afraid I am of judgement and failure is a double-edged sword–I want desperately to be an empowered female, and for the most part, I’m good at playing the role. Every so often, though, you can see the mask slipping. The fact that I still laugh awkwardly when my boyfriend gives me a compliment because I don’t know how to respond, or the fact that I’ll let myself be late somewhere in order to make sure my face is appropriately made up so that “people will take me seriously” (which is its own can of worms). My inability to be truly honest in a blog because of fear of judgement from people I don’t even know, and will probably never meet.

So, this time, instead of using this as a form of catharsis, I’m using this as a self-tracking method. Blunt honesty, at least once a week, regardless of how stupid it makes me look/sound/feel. Because being human shouldn’t be a weakness, and I’m tired of feeling like it is. So here’s to normalizing being human!

… I’m glad I already have a therapist…