Maddox is not my real name, although it has been my online moniker for quite some time.
It’s is a cool name, some people even tell me so. It’s original and somewhat unique, yet still common enough to be recognizable. I see the name written out in forums and blogs. It is used to refer to me online. I sign off on emails with it. People even recognize me by it in person!
It fits me. Or so I thought.
When I signed up to volunteer for the Gender Spectrum Conference, I sent the request as Maddox. At the registration desk I got a badge with the name printed in large letters. I put on that badge, and suddenly people were calling me Maddox. They were saying that name, outloud, and assumed it to be me. They were expecting me to answer to it. They saw me and said Maddox.
Within three hours, I was on the phone with my girlfriend, on the brink of a crisis. “I don’t like it, I want to change it back!” (The conversation continued on the lines of “but now I’m stuck because I’ve already been introduced to tons of people and it’s on my badge and what’ll it look like if I suddenly change my name in the middle of the day!”). Maddox isn’t me. I’m not Maddox.
Until last week, I had been seriously considering changing that to be my real name. But my little experiment, one that I had been patiently waiting to execute for quite some time, had immediately crumbled. It just didn’t fit.
This name is so familiar to me. When I sign up for a random site, half the time I use that. There’s recognition when I see it written out on the screen. I even changed the name on my Netflix account! I’ve used it so much online, I thought it would be a natural progression to use it in real life. Why, then, did I experience a bout of… uneasiness? uncomfortableness? alienation? depersonalization?
When all of a sudden people started calling me by this word, I felt like a fake. They were saying this word that I knew was supposed to refer to me, but it didn’t. It was calling out to someone else. Who? Maybe it is a part of me: this alternate online persona, who is never at a fault for words, who publicizes very personal thoughts and emotions, who is openly vulnerable and afraid, and confidently so. Obviously, there wouldn’t be all this without me, but there’s more to me than all this.
Hi! You can call me Maddox, but my real name is Mich. You can call me that too.