Wednesday, July 23, 2014
My name is Alaska Young Firebrace. I was never born with this name, but I will die with this name. Some of you might know me by different names amongst other several monikers that I've adapted throughout my life besides my birth name. But from now on, I shall be known by this name and this name only.
I am writing this to tell you that I have changed my name and why I have done it, not because I need to but because I want to. I am sharing something very personal on a public place and I hope that you can be respectful and kind to what I have to say.
I'll begin by saying that I have never felt comfortable with my birth name. It is not a hideous name by any nature, but I have never felt a sense of pride in my birth name because I never understood my name nor the reasoning behind my name. I believe there is a meaning to everything in life and I would like having meaning behind my name. But my mother never gave any explanation behind my name and there was no sort of meaning behind my birth name. I am not saying that everyone must have meaning in their names, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with people who have names without meaning; but I never saw eye to eye to my name, even after my mother changed it for me once when I was a child.
As I grew up I used different names during different periods of my life, some of them completely arbitrary and some of them were reflective of the person that I was at that moment in time. Some of them were used by my friends, and so people know me by different names. There were more commonly known ones and some were only known to a few. Most of them were unbeknownst to my mother or family. But I either outgrew my monikers or lost interest in them, so none of them really stuck with me for too long.
About two years ago in 2012, I conjured an entirely new name up - Alaska Young Firebrace - that I kept to myself and my journal. That name remained with me and I had planned to change it and use it only after I complete national service.
However, in my first backpacking trip throughout Europe, I met a person who helped me realize I could freely use this name, and so, I have been using the name Alaska throughout my travels ever since.
Several months ago I had made up my mind to change my name although I was not free yet. I did so due to several reasons, but mainly because I realized I would never be free from my liabilities to the country and also because I realized that I could die any time, at any place, on any day and I didn't want to die with a name that bore no meaning to me. So I made the quick decision to change my name, a decision that I only told a few people I trusted.
I'd kept my name a secret for the past few months because upon changing it, I had received very negative, scathing remarks and feedback. Most of them were from people that I barely knew in the army, and although I'd originally thought they wouldn't affect me, they did - more than I'd care to admit. I was taken aback by the reaction of people who barely knew me. They were unkind, harsh and rude. There was a stark difference from the warm reception I received from the strangers when I was traveling, and I wasn't sure I could get used to these negative reactions that were new to me.
But with time, much doubt, hesitation and hints of regrets, I finally reassured myself upon remembering the reason and meaning behind my name. I knew the reason behind my decision to change my name, and I knew the meaning behind my new name. People do not. Why am I affected by the words of strangers who judge what they don't know or understand?
People will judge, whether or not what you do affects them or not. Most people are unkind and judgmental. I was very lucky to have had encouraging friends and family who stood by me despite how distressed I was due to people's reactions. But I remembered the reactions from the kind, loving and open-minded people that I met in my travels and then realized that not everyone will love me or the things I do, just like how not everyone will hate me or the things I do. I will not let the words and opinions of unkind, narrow-minded people sway me.
And so, here I am, announcing the birth of my new name. My name is Alaska Young Firebrace. My name was inspired by figures that I respect and admire (but am in no way related to), but I adopted the name because I could personally resonate with these names. I picked Alaska because it is a faraway land, a distant land that is on the opposite side of the world from where I was born. I wanted Young as my middle name because I never want to forget my youth, the time of my life. I never want my heart, mind or spirit to grow old even when my body does. And lastly, I chose Firebrace as a last name because it reminded me of my star sign. I am a Sagittarian, belonging to the Sagittarius sign - a fire sign. I am the archer from the ruling planet Jupiter of the fire element.
When I think of Alaska, it reminds me of the wild. It is expansive, native, majestic, honorable, peaceful, unencumbered and free. When I think of Young, it reminds me to be loving, tender, raw, brave, curious, restless, honest and kind like a child. When I think of Firebrace, I am reminded to be passionate, fearless, fiery, strong, relentless, powerful, indestructible, insurmountable and indomitable.
My name is unconventional in today's society, but it gives me strength and courage to do what I want and to be who I want. I am Alaska Young Firebrace.