I Did It Out of Fear
The Story of My Identity on Medium
I started writing my personal blog in September, 2017. My brother told me about this website called Medium.com where you could publish anything you want. I had written a personal essay for a contest and did not win, but I felt the essay was good. I enjoyed writing it. I wanted to publish it. So, here it is:
I struggled with coming up with my screen name. I started out using my maiden name, Victoria Ponte. I prefer it to my married name, “Leone”. As I wrote more and more, I became a little uncomfortable with the idea of the world at large having access to things I was publishing. I wrote about intensely personal experiences in my life such as the end of my marriage and my foray into the world of online dating. I’ll admit, I was worried about what “people” would think. In particular, I wasn’t sure I wanted my estranged husband or my kids to read stories like these:
I was new to online dating at the time I started publishing my work. I was concerned about what potential dates might think if they googled “Victoria Ponte” in advance of meeting me and found my scandalous stories. What would they think? They would likely correctly assume I would write about them.
After carefully considering the potential ramifications of using my real name, I played around with internet pen name generators. These work similarly to sites that help you generate your porn star name by asking you questions like your first pet’s name, first street where you lived, etc. I didn’t like any of them.
Having decided that using my actual name was a risky proposition, I decided that “Miracle” would fit the bill. The story of my survival against the odds as told in my story “Recovery” illustrates how I came to be known as a walking miracle.
I thought using a one word name might be sort of cool, too, like Cher, Sting, Bono, Beyonce or Madonna. Maybe I thought I was a rock star. I had read about other writers use of pen names followed by their decision to “come out” as themselves, and was intrigued. Still, I hesitated. After only a few months as Miracle using an avatar as my profile picture, I changed to an actual photograph of myself. I was still hiding behind my pen name, though. I had taken a small step using a real photo, but wasn’t ready to rip the band aid off and just be myself yet.
I was afraid. Of what, exactly, I’m not sure. I was writing for personal reasons without any intention of sharing my work with people I know. The world of Medium.com seemed large and anonymous. I had the impression that followers found my one word moniker intriguing. I had some concern that if I switched to my actual name they might lose track of me.
I have always known that The New York Times would not print even my most juicy private stories. None of it is news. I slowly came to the conclusion that people don’t really care about who I’m sleeping with or how much pot I smoke. I have settled into a comfortable long term relationship so I’m not dating around anymore. My “children” are now adults.
Finally, last week I changed my profile name back to “Victoria Ponte” almost on impulse. I conquered my fear about being myself online. If people are going to judge me, I won’t let it be my problem.