Identity

I’ve been many things to many people over the past few years. When I was a kid, I was the Girl with Glasses. When I graduated and entered university, I was the Girl Two Years Younger Than Everyone Else (I was accelerated, and entered UP at 15 years old).

Then I got on the internet, and it was here that I first found some semblance of control of my identity because everything required I select some sort of handle or nickname (before we started calling them “usernames”). One of the first internet rules I learned was to use a different name from my own. For a teen still finding her own voice, this was golden because I felt I could be anything online. I created a home page on Geocities and my username was “Barbie-q” or some kind of iteration on that.

It wasn’t long before I found people online and in real life with whom I shared similar interests. Back then, I was into anime and because of this subscribed to the Pinoy Otaku Mailing List. Living in that world of fantasy, I soon created and inhabited a persona I called “Doctor Megumi” after the character Takani Megumi from the anime Rurouni Kenshin. I even attempted some fanfiction under that pen name. *shudder*

As more people started using the internet and social networking sites like Friendster, Myspace, and then Facebook and Twitter grew in popularity, establishing an online identity under your real name became the new norm (although anonymous usernames still stuck around). I had also begun keeping a personal blog under my real name in hopes of creating a portfolio good enough as a jump-off point for finding writing work.

Then I started writing about fitness and active lifestyle, which started pointing me in the direction I’ve been going ever since in both the magazine articles I’ve written, and the television appearances I’ve had. Some people still recognize me from my ShopTV Live guesting demonstrating products like this. *shudder*

But never has anything grown to define me as much as my latest identity “Kikay Runner”. It started when I wrote a few blog entries about starting to run and join races. One of my friends said I was the next Bull Runner, referring to an already-established running blogger. I demurred, saying, “Hindi naman. Kikay Runner lang.” I didn’t think anything of it back then; the term was just a brain fart.

But when I split off my running-related posts into its own blog and called it Kikay Runner, it really took off. It was easy to remember and juxtaposed mental images of a feminine woman in a hardcore sport. And I guess I’ve grown to become that name, too — even as I invested in trademarking it for fear that TV networks would use it on one of their young stars to capitalize on the growing popularity of running.

These days when people call out to me I can tell when I got to know them. I’m “Noelle” to most long-time buddies from the blogging world, “Megumi-chan” to my anime friends, and “Kikay” to my acquaintances in the running community. And some people who know me by “Kikay” now don’t even know my real name. But that’s all right. My name is Noelle… but I’m Kikay, too.

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