I’ve read that many people choose a name that has some meaning for them when they use an alter ego/alias on digital networks. This has been the same for me during my explorations of Second Life.
I was named Catherine after my maternal grandmother (my nan) plus the name Anne. My mother told me I was given those names because my parents didn’t think they would be shortened as names so often are. When I was small I learned to say, “Catherine with an ‘A’ and Anne with an ‘E’” when people asked me my name. It somehow seemed important and I still say that now sometimes.
My nan was born left-handed but changed herself to being right-handed when she was older, which must have been really hard. This was because when she ‘went into service’ (as they called it) people used to call her “Cack-hand Katie”. My nan was quite proud to tell me that, when I also showed signs of being left-handed when I was small, she ‘changed’ me to being right-handed because she didn’t want me to suffer in the same way. There’s no way now to prove I was left-handed to begin with of course because children can often appear ambidextrous until their ‘handedness’ settles itself. However, my daughter proved to be left-handed as well and I remember feeling pleased about this, although I don’t think she’s quite as thrilled.
No one ever really shortened my name until I worked as a secretary in a large wholesale warehouse that was set up like a department store. Amongst many other items they sold a popular doll at the time called “Chatty Cathy” (which ‘talked’ and was usually a blonde.), and so that got attached to me! Later on, when I trained as a probation officer, I got called Cathy for some other reason and this stayed with me for quite a long time in my working life. In some respects I think this shortened name actually helped me to distinguish between my working life and my home life but I eventually reclaimed my name, Catherine, at a time when I was going through a lengthy period of personal development work. I think this helped me to feel more integrated as a person instead of keeping my different roles in life in separate boxes, although some of my friends found it really hard and complained.
Despite being called Catherine my nan was always called Kit and it suited her – small, down-to-earth, energetic and young at heart.
One of my paternal great-grandmothers had the surname Dumont before she married, and this name was actually carried down for two generations as a middle name for first-born sons. I’ve always liked the sound of the name and used it when I became Paul Dumont (during a project for Context & Narrative) who created a blog in which to grieve for his broken relationship with Laura.
My Second Life avatar is Kit Dumont – a virtual representation of some connections with my female lineage.