A clever person recently told me “we don’t have to conform to be successful”. I’m not a conformist, but I’m only now learning not to compare myself (negatively) against others, who are achieving their goals and ambitions – when those goals and ambitions are not mine. I’ve felt like a failure and a loser for much of my life, despite the fact I’ve never wanted wealth, a marriage and a mortgage; but because I’ve absorbed the notion of “should”. This is what I should have. This is what I should want.
My wonderful mother has given me an excellent role model, in a woman who has always gone to incredible lengths to be kind and generous. She has given love and cared for not only me, but the sick and dying, the disabled and troubled, she’s given respite, childcare, foster care and raised so many people, to whom she’s been a loving mother. She is stronger and braver than she’ll ever give herself credit for – in fact she rarely gives herself credit for anything.
It’s with my mother in mind and my brilliant Naughty Daughter, that I’m throwing off the shackles of a man who never cared about me and losing my surname. From now on I’m taking my middle name as my surname and I’ll be a Harley, the name I’ve taken from my mother and passed on to my daughter.
And, in for a penny, I’m also changing my first name, to Jay. I’ve actually been called this for as long as I can remember, by those closest to me.
Jay Harley was going to be my pen name, but I can’t wait for a novel that may never be written. I’m casting off the old now and I’d be grateful if you would, from hereon in, address me as Jay Harley.
The reasons are numerous, complex, spiritual: I want to be myself, I want to be less gendered, I want to make a change and slough off my snakey skin.
At the same time the decision is trivial and spontaneous. Imagine if the only cultural comparison you’d had your whole life was Janine Butcher. And yes, there’s a Janine in the Handmaid’s Tale, but she’s a whacking whackjob too and none of you referenced her anyway. It was always Janine Butcher.
And please trust that it will be harder for me to get used to than any of you, so slip-ups and misnaming will be forgiven. But from now I’d be grateful if you call me Jay. And it rhymes with ‘hey’ as in ‘hey Jay, nice name’, so that might help.
Typically, I’ve already bought up jayharley.com, I’m trying to find the perfect Twitter handle and I’m going to try and change my name on Facebook. I already have the signed deed poll, bank cards and driving license in process. Oh yes, this is a real thing. Although I’m not stumping up for a new passport yet, as that’s a ridiculous charge and I can’t afford to go abroad anyway.
Thanks in advance for your support, as your weirdo friend does another weird thing. And blogs about it. Soz, not soz.