Nervousness around being known?

I have about an hour before I should probably be in bed.  That would normally mean that I’d need to stop what I’m doing now and start preparing, but I’m not feeling entirely that responsible at the moment.  🙂

I was able to finish my acrylic painting last night, though “finish” is a bit of a misnomer.  It’s ready to turn in, but I can see where I can tweak it.   I’ve posted an image of it below…I’ve already submitted a copy to my professor, so I’m thinking I’m good.  It’s got a bit of a Surrealist effect going on, as it is, due to some camera oddities which I exaggerated without realizing it.  And, well, I made a mistake which is visible between the watercolor and acrylic versions of the image, though unless one knows it’s there, it probably doesn’t look bad.  I forgot that I could wipe it off with a damp rag while it was still wet…

Done, finally.  (For now, at least.)
Done, finally. (For now, at least.)

At least I was able to get the painting done on time.  As things stand now, though — due to illness and the holiday, most of my classes this week were cancelled.  I only had the field trip to worry about, plus the Painting assignment (I didn’t know until early morning that the latter class was cancelled).  That also means that I didn’t have to have my big Figure Drawing assignment done earlier in the week.

My prof has given us some exercises to work within to build up to the large composition (18″x24″) for Figure Drawing, but I’m thinking I’m going to have to do some additional work to even get the thing done.  We were supposed to make three different versions of the same drawing in thumbnail format and then blow one of those up into a large-format image on colored paper.  My major issue with this is that there are so many different directions I could go, that it’s difficult to pick one and stay with it.

My second major issue is that the drawings I most want to recreate are with one of the models who exhibited the most sensuality…which I am a bit cautious about getting into, in a school setting.  It’s bad enough when I’m next to some guy who’s vocally uncomfortable about drawing a nude male model in a vulnerable pose, or who’s giggling about a nude female model.  The poses I’m drawn to, though — at least, the two by our first model — are really indicative of vulnerability.  And I really resonate with that — because to me, part of being a really good artist is making oneself vulnerable.

I was actually talking about this with my counselor today; that there is a tradeoff between being vocal and recognized and keeping things private.  When I work, my work is very obviously (to me) based off of my own experience, and so there is no way for me to give my all to an Art class and at the same time not let anyone know what’s going on inside of me.

The major bit of information that is missing from the above painting, which I have not yet entered, is my signature.  I could take on a pseudonym — in fact I already have one which I’ve used with certain subsets of friends, and have planned to use if I ever become a published author — but it seems most appropriate to write my actual name on the piece.

Part of that is the fact that I’m mixed-race, and this is apparent from my birth name — whereas with my chosen name, one wouldn’t know I were mixed (or indeed whether I were male or female) until seeing me.  My birth name also resonates with much more power in this context (meaningwise) than my chosen name.

The problem with using it is that it is a unique name — very nearly too unique — though I have found others using names spelled similarly online.  And with the Internet the way it is, I’ve been cautious about putting it out there.  Putting it out here, on my blog, would likely give away my existence, whereas I and my family have gone through efforts to keep the fact of my existence largely offline.

I also have a history of both existing within the trans community (though I don’t really resonate anywhere nearly as strongly with the term “trans” anymore — I never took hormones or surgery, and have seemed to be able to adapt on my own, whereas most of the TG and TS people I’ve known have gone quickly to medical interventions, often at very high costs) and I’ve also spoken about my experience of mental illness, rather freely.

I have made efforts to find a career path in which I’ll be able to be open about who I am and my experiences without too much risk of discrimination or censure.  And there is quite a tolerance for neurodiversity within the Arts…thankfully.  It’s been a really good thing to be able to find a place where I don’t have to worry about negative judgments just because of the difficulties I’ve had in my life.  I mean, I came out to everyone last semester, and I still have friends who’ve kept on with me since then, you know?  It’s not necessarily such a bad thing to let others know this stuff.  The problem is, mainly, do I want to be really public about it?

I do realize I have an image editor now, so I could, technically, just blot out any signature I’d put on my work.  But that doesn’t seem right — it is my work, not the work of an anonymous or nondescript person.  I do want to claim it — but then again, I was unable to be unknown for most of my childhood and teen years, and that was not a fun time.  Then again, it was childhood, and that is often not a fun time.

And then it’s like who cares, right?  It’s just a name.  But for me, it’s a name of power.  My reclaiming my name is an act of defiance (and somewhat, strength and resolve), in this circumstance, even as a lot of people I’ve known have chosen names for themselves to better fit their view of themselves, and take back the power that was stripped from them early on.  It’s a different context, I’ve guessed.

But I was never raised to be anyone other than who I am — and, there is nothing wrong with who I am.  Even if I am mixed-race and gender-fluid.  I just seem to be…well, a Millennial.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

5 thoughts on “Nervousness around being known?”

  1. This is a real dilemma for me too. I have only just recently realized, that my art expression and creativity were blocked due to the inability to expose myself, my feelings, vulnerability…Now under a pseudonym and a different art medium, I am able to do that, and it is really satisfying, but somehow I do want to claim it under my real name. Only the idea of loosing my privacy, as well as my family and friends seeing that part of me absolutely terrifies me!

  2. Hi Gia!

    Thanks for commenting. It’s interesting what can come out when we begin to talk about these things…I have thought of using an abbreviated version of my name. After I just posted what I did, though…(you can see later in my blog), I am thinking that just for my safety, maybe I should use my pseudonym. The choice seems to be between:

    1) first and last legal name (dangerous, though perhaps not so much in the days before the Web?)
    2) first initial and last name
    3) first initial and abbreviated last name
    4) two initials
    5) last name in non-English script
    6) pseudonym in non-English script
    7) pseudonym and last name in non-English script
    8) first, pseudonym, and last name in non-English script
    9) pseudonym in English letters only (like Sade or Dido)
    10) my legal first name, spelled more like the phrase it is
    …and it goes on.

    In short, I’m thinking of using my pseudonym. *I* know what my birth name is; I just had to make the choice not to deny it to myself as my primary name, when using my pseudonym. My pseudonym can be my “creator” name, and then my birth name, the one I use in everyday life (which might ironically be a “secret” name when it comes to the wider public). There is no harm in letting my pseudonym free, you know? And I’m not denying who I am by not using the name linked to my official identity; I’m just taking precautions against misuse of that information.

    It does give a certain sense of freedom to be able to speak about things that need to be spoken of when one doesn’t have the issue of direct repercussions. But having…spoken about what I’m going through directly, in the Art program and at one of my job sites (I’m lucky), I haven’t had nearly the bad experience I was dreading. Sometimes our fears can be worse than reality, you know? Although — I do realize I’m in a relatively good situation, here.

    I’m not saying to link your writing self with your name, but I think that often we think it will be worse than it turns out to be, and we can harm and limit ourselves by expecting pain. Other people hurt us enough; it helps for us not to do it to ourselves, too. Realistic caution is one thing; worry is another. The first helps us navigate and be safe; the second can be debilitating.

    I wouldn’t advise to take any steps you’re not ready for. If or when the time is right to link who you are with what you write (? I haven’t read deeply into your blog yet, but I can see that you’re a writer), I think it’ll feel correct. 🙂 For now, I’m using an alternate name because I know my existence is controversial and could attract fire, from people I don’t even know, which I don’t need at this point.

    Good luck!

  3. Thank you for elaborating on that! It is a double edge sword really, because in order to release your creativity freely you have to expose your vulnerability, emotion…Be true to yourself and others. That’s how others connect with you and your art. But it also leaves the door open for anybody to use all that against you (as well as loss of privacy), which would be fine if you didn’t have to worry about income for example. In that case I would be more inclined to use my real name. However if you have to exist and conform to “normal” society, it could harm you (would you be able to get a job? etc),then (for me) it is probably better to use a pseudonym.
    The thing is though, that when it is just the work people see without a person attached to it, than this vulnerability-openness could be lacking, don’t people connect more to a real flesh and blood person rather than just an anonymous entity online/out there? And by exposing that part of you, like you said might not be as bad as we think and many people would connect to that, which might help to establish you as an artist that could potentially earn living with art/writing etc. From what I’ve read on your blog, you have the perfect ingredients of a true artist: talent, creativity, ideas & the controversial issues-gender-fluid, race, a bit weird- isn’t it what artists are perceived (expected) to be?
    But with that comes a potential total loss of privacy-people you know and total strangers alike would/could come up to you and ask you questions about you, and what you are doing, they would dissect your work in all kids of ways. That includes those people that bother you in the library. If you became well known and successful, there would be all kinds of characters coming out of the woodwork trying to get your money, even suing you for all kinds of weird reasons. You would never be sure again who is your real friend, and your old friends and even some family members, as well as total strangers would sell/spread stories true or false about you. There would be no hiding. Just look at what happened to Michael Jackson….
    So it all boils down to what we are more comfortable with, decide and be ready to deal with all aspects of either choice. I bet Harper Lee wished many times she used a pseudonym.
    So I guess for now I will use my pseudonym because right now just the act of writing freely and putting it out there is enough for me, and it is making me incredibly happy and fulfilled. All I am driven to do right now is to finish the first draft of my book and see what happens next. By doing it on the blog I am motivated to keep going, and if it speaks to just one person out there, or even helps them in some way, I will be happy, for now…
    By the way, I like your painting, why is it monochrome? I used to do lot of still life paintings, but after a while I was not sure where I was going with that, hm…Perhaps I will come back to it one day, because I miss painting.
    I might do a post about this on my other blog, to see what others think about it. Take care and keep going! 🙂

    1. The painting is monochrome because this was one of the first two assignments given in my Painting class. It was the first serious acrylic painting, and I think our prof is trying to ease us into the use of paint as best she can. So first we did greyscale, next it was Fauvism (Fauvists are/were known for using bright, highly saturated colors, requiring little mixing of paint). I’m glad you like my work! I held back responding for a while because I’m not used to people taking such an interest in me. Hope it’s OK.

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