Do you remember your first email address or AIM name, myspace, friendster, etc.? Remember how much time (or maybe not) you spent putting into what your handle would be? Well, when it came to setting up my Instagram account way back when, I did it through Twitter and just decided to keep the same name. It was easy, it was already part of an online presence I had, and it was my initials/name so of course it was me. Turns out I was really wrong on this last piece.
As much as our names/initials can be used to identify us and come to be a part of us, they don't necessarily capture who we are. Are any of my personality traits a result of me being named Leah? Definitely not. For me, Instagram (my personal Instagram that is, not the things I do for clients for work), is a mash up of a visual diary, mood board, vision board, and things that make me happy. My moniker, @lfrosenbaum, felt too staid and just didn't capture who I am. I felt a little strange acknowledging that my name didn't express my "me-ness," but then as I wrote above, I realized that our names are just that, names. They don't necessarily define us and when you come down to it, you don't even choose them for yourself, major caveat of course if you have had your name legally changed and/or chosen to change your name after marriage/divorce, but even that is somewhat from convention and society and not always 100% motivated purely by our own desires. So, I had a brainstorming session of words that spoke to what I use Instagram for and how I wanted my feed to be seen. The essence of my feed is the things that I love and so I started a hunt for available handles that could work and finally found that @whatleahloves was available. A quick gut check with a friend found me defending my decision and that's when I knew my heart was already set on it. I took a breath, made a post to let people know (anyone else always like "New phone who dis?" when you see an unfamiliar name pop up your feed?), and went for it.
Since making the change, I have felt so much happier and more like myself and not just on Instagram but in general. It's made me spend a lot of time thinking about how we present ourselves and the ways in which we choose to honor, or not, our true selves. I won't get into any more self-reflection for now, it is Friday after all. Happy weekend!
Have you ever changed an online handle? While we're at it, thumbs up/down to my change?