It's probably about 18 months - 2 years now since I decided that I was going to change my name on Facebook from an old nickname to my real name. It was interesting for me that in some ways that nickname gave me a level of anonymity and something to hide behind from the wider world, yet in other ways it was so unique, anyone that had ever known me by that name would know that, that person was me - there certainly wasn't 2 of us.
When I reflect upon it, I didn't use that name until my mid-twenties, people who knew me as that were people I'd met in adulthood, people I'd chosen to invite into my life myself, people who knew me and that I felt safe with.
My real name, the one I'd chosen to ditch, was a name I associated with my mother, most people who knew me by that name knew my mother and sister too (they knew my dad as well, but I didn't mind that, my dad was a kind and generous man that everyone liked, yes he had a less positive side people didn't know too, but not to the same extent as my mother and sister). I didn't want to have mutual friends with those family members, the fear of information being passed back and forth to them about me, the thought of them gossiping about me behind my back, plus the fear of either of them sending me a friend request that I'd want to decline but would feel I had to accept...I didn't want any of that. And the other people that knew me by my real name would be people from school, from painful teenage years where my mother ensured I was a misfit - I wasn't allowed to follow any fashions, I wasn't allowed to remove excess body hair, I wasn't allowed to go to clubs or socialise outside of school, and if I ever took a friend home she always found fault with them and told me they weren't welcome again... I didn't really want to reconnect with people who thought I was weird, who were probably just wanting to see how much weirder I'd become as an adult, and whether I'd found a geeky guy to marry and have gawky children.
It was a big deal for me, to go back to that name and lay myself open to those things, but I made the decision and did it. It was a sign of my new found strength, of an acceptance that, that was my past and that it was pretty much beyond my control, but that this was the present and the future going forwards where I know I've changed and I do feel like I'm an okay person, and I'm not ashamed for people to know me as I am now, there isn't anything to hide about myself or hide from, I quite like being me - if people don't like me, they don't have to hang around and if I don't like the way they treat me, I don't have to remain their friend (not that I've had to unfriend many people, just a handful) - it's worked out really well, and has been a positive, rather liberating experience for me.
No more hiding, no more covering up - just me, the same me on the outside that I am on the inside :)