So if you know me, you know I’ve always gone by a name other than the one my mother gave me. Not because I don’t like it, but I’m a child of 80’s Hip Hop. I’ve always had a tag name, although I was too afraid to grab a graffiti can and tag anything. But it’s okay. I’ve been rhyming since I was 10 years old, so it was expected I had a stage name (same thing as a tag in this case). I’ve been tagged with so many names. Sunshine, Looney Tunes, MisChief are all just a few from my childhood.

Something happened when I became an adult. When I was about 19, I started rapping again after a three-year hiatus. I gave myself a name, Lana Ave., based upon the name of a girls rap group I was asked to join, 42nd Street. I know, I know. Sounds like a group of hookers rather than a three girl verse spitting threat. The group never officially formulated but I kept the name. Probably the first time I kept the same one for over six months. Actually, I kept it for almost a decade. Telling my age, aren’t I? It’s okay. I’m comfortable with it.

Anyway, there came a point when I decided to rap with a different purpose; Less violent and more spiritual. I felt like my old stage name should be changed as a symbol of me changing whom I represented. But I was actually shaky. Like I had been known by one name for so long it became like a phone number. I was scared to give it up because so many people knew me by it.

The process occurred again when I was writing the first draft of the novel I’m working on. As a writer, I had been going by one name for a few years and was hesitant to write the novel under what I thought was closer to what I wanted to be known as an author.

But why? None of these name are names on my birth certificate. I can write a hundred books under a hundred different names if I wanted to? There should be freedom in artistry. And there is. It’s me and my identity associated with the outside world that holds me captive to a name.

I guess we can look at life the same way. It’s so hard for people to accept whom you’ve evolved into because they’ve known you as one person or personality for so long. But in true honesty, we can be whomever we choose to be. We don’t have to be held hostage to an old version of ourselves. We don’t have to give up that kind of power. We can decide to be good. We can decide to be better. We can decide to be different.

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