Oh, self identity. How do you define it? By your name?
I sure don’t! But my name is often a point of conversation, so let’s talk about it.. because why not?!
My name is…
Let’s take it back to my days as a camp counselor of Anytown (an amazing non profit I was a part of for years. As a counselor, advisor and on the board of directors!). There was an activity we did in small discussion groups about self identity. Within that activity we had five slips of paper. On each paper we wrote the following..
- Ethnicity / Race
- An ability we have
Then, throughout the activity we would discard certain slips based on how they impacted out own self identity. And, keep in mind, there is a LOT more than these five things that make us who we are, but it was just a starting point for the conversation.
Throughout my years at Anytown I did something like 20 camps, as well as trainings and intensives in schools and with the staff of Anytown. So, I have done this activity or those similar to it many times. The thing that stayed the same over the years was that I always discarded the first paper first.. my name.
I’ve never felt a connection to my name.
As long as it’s nice, call me whatever! My mom had many nicknames for me as a kid. I performed in theatre throughout all of high school and after. Then I had a career with Disney. In a way, I have answered to countless names over my life!
So, let’s clear things up. My first name is Ashley. The middle name is Riane. Nick name is Princess. My niece calls me Yaya.
Whenever I see people who know me as ‘Ashley’ from school and now see my social media/business as ‘Riane’, they don’t know what to call me. Whenever I have friends who have always known me solely as ‘Riane’ go out in public and see my credit card says ‘Ashley’, they’re confused.
All of this just to tell you, you can call me whatever you want. I don’t have a really big preference. Because, there are so many other parts of my identity that mean more to me, have shaped me and are important to me.
And that is how I feel about you too! Tell me what you want to be called (or not called) and let’s learn more about each other. Let’s talk about goals and dreams, our mental health journeys, the places we have traveled and dream of traveling to.
Why get caught up on a name?
All my love,
Ashley Yaya Princess Riane