Why I Have A Fake Name
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When I was younger, I liked names. I liked how they could completely transform your life. What if, I called my brother ‘Ryan’ instead of Kalp? He would be assuming a whole different identity now, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t be the brown kid from New Jersey anymore, would he? I used to call my mother by her real name for years before I started saying ‘mom’. And, my dad, well I always called him what he was.

I used to love who I was: Rushabh, the innocent kid with glasses, the one who avoids confrontation and hates drama. Times change, and so do people. “Hi, my name is Rushabh, but you can call me Jake.”

Jake was born at seventeen, almost eighteen, out of spontaneity. At first, he didn’t receive a lot of love from Rushabh. Many times, Rushabh would go out and leave Jake in his closet.

At Taco Bell: “Hey, can I get a Mexican pizza to go?”

“Sure, name for the order?”

“Uh…Rushabh”

“Sorry what?”

“Rushabh”

“Say it one more time?”

I just spelled it out for him, “R-U-S-H-A-B-H”.

I was then most disappointed to see that he spelled my name ‘R-U-S-H-A-U-B,’ on the receipt. “The fuck…” I whispered to myself.

If Jake stayed in the closet longer, I would become Rushob or Rashab instead of Rushabh.

The first time I used that name, I was at Starbucks: “Welcome to Starbucks, how may I help you?”

“Yeah, can I get a grande caramel latte with whipped cream?”

“Sure. Name for the order?”

“It’s Jake.”

“Haha, you look like a Jake,” said the Starbucks barista, smiling.

“Hahaha,” I laughed forcefully. I took that as a compliment, hoping she wasn’t being sarcastic. It felt good knowing that I looked like a Jake. No one ever told me that I looked like Rushabh before.

Then I knew, Jake was five foot ten inch brown male with black hair and black glasses. I was Jake. Rushabh is Jake. But, really, who is Jake? Logically it follows that Jake is Rushabh. But I didn’t feel like Rushabh anymore. What are names, really?

Names haven’t mattered for a long time, but now, they are suddenly everything. Each name has an idea attached to it. What do you think of when you hear the name ‘Rushabh’? What about ‘Jake’? You’re probably thinking of two completely different people. Well, that’s what I expected.

The name gave me a surge of confidence every time I used it.

“Ay! Jake! Help us out here. Is it…is it Moby Dick or Moby’s Dick?”

“The book? It’s Moby Dick, dude!”

“Oh, I knew it!”

“Wait, I’m not letting that slide. Who is Moby and why are you guys talking about his penis? Hahaha!”

He exploded with laughter, “We got a smartass over here!”

Rushabh struggled in the spotlight. But, apparently, Jake was funny. Rushabh was awkward. It was almost as if I had a case of dissociative identity disorder, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But that’s just me being dramatic.

The world runs on the principles of binary opposition. And I was no exception to that. In a sense, there had to be a Jake to my Rushabh. I mean it only makes sense that we have another identity that fills in the holes of our given one, right?

As I soon realized, wearing both identities on my sleeves weighed me down.

The name became a sort of emblem I always wore. I was a more comfortable version of myself. Everything Rushabh couldn’t do, Jake could.

I started to leave Rushabh in the closet.

He didn’t seem that important anyway, so I freed myself. My identity was my cage and I had just broken the lock.

This changed when I attended a friend’s graduation party in the summer of my senior year of high school. I was invited as Rushabh, but I really wanted to be Jake. He was just so much better. My friend asked me to give a speech about our high school friendship.

Shit, can Rushabh give a speech?

The two identities wrestled inside my head. Rushabh’s anxiety quickly swallowed Jake whole and exposed his weakness. “No,” I said, “no I can’t give a speech.” I didn’t say I don’t want to, but that I can’t. I pitied myself throughout the night. It wasn’t a big deal so why did it haunt my night?

The human mind doesn’t work as efficiently as people think. I realized that my mind doesn’t have enough space for both identities. They had already started to blur together. What does this mean? Was I always Rushabh and never Jake?

Fuck, I thought, maybe I could have given that speech at my friend’s graduation. I was so caught up in the euphoria of being Jake that I completely forgot that these identities exist in the same body.

That summer I took some time to myself. I didn’t go to any more parties and I rarely went to the get-togethers my friends invited me to. I just thought about the person I wanted to be next year, in college. Who am I?

The answer quickly presented itself: I am Rushabh. That was that. Jake was just a cover, a psychological sheath that I covered myself within to distance myself from my original identity, to hide Rushabh from the world

It wasn’t until August that year, before college started, that I became proud of my name and what I stood for. Children, when they are growing up, spend their entire lives under their parents and sometimes don’t understand why their parents raised them to be a certain way. This is the first time I did.

When I was younger my mom always showered me with compliments, and, my dad, with constructive criticism. At a young age, I learned to be humble and accept people’s opinions without reservation. I knew who they wanted me to be but I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be. Sure, Jake may have been birthed spontaneously, but I was always itching to be someone else, someone who I created, myself. Not my parents. Not my relatives. Me. In a sense, Jake was all I and Rushabh were all my parents.

Dissociative identity disorder is a hoax. Jekyll and Hyde were really the same person all along.

Whoever said, “There can be only one,” is right. Rushabh and Jake blurred together and, really, one informed the other. The confidence I got from being Jake seeped through the cracks of that identity and slowly started to make Rushabh feel more confident because, in a way, that confidence was Rushabh’s all along; I just never associated it with the ideology Rushabh grew up with.

Now everything that Jake could do, Rushabh could do too, because really, Jake didn’t exist; he doesn’t exist. Creating a fake name wasn’t about shielding myself from my original identity, but about informing it, and creating my own sense of self.

I went to Starbucks again a couple weeks into my freshman year of college.

“Yeah, can I get a grande caramel latte with whipped cream?”

“Sure, name for the order?”

“Rushabh. R-U-S-H-A-B-H”

Even though they didn’t spell it right on my coffee, they still knew who I was, and I was glad.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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