Two weeks ago, I knew I wanted to register my name.
As far as Dutch law allows such a thing, without going to court.
And even then it requires a good reason.
Just wanting to boost your writing career is not enough.
As opposed to Anglo-Saxon countries changing your name in the Netherlands is almost impossible, and I ve never heard of anyone doing it as a vanity project or a career move.
There’s usually a family story behind it, and people will adopt the name of their other parent.
I chose my name LS Harteveld, or Lauren, when I started writing in 2006.
I was a yoga teacher and didn’t want my work to be read by the people who were taking my classes. I ve never been fully me, during the 15 years of teaching yoga.
I felt the people came for a normal yoga class, and I had fully repressed my own authenticity. In later years I did allow more of it, and I had good relationships with my students.
But in 2006 I was hiding deep in the closet of pretending to be good and normal.
I could not have my (sex) writer identity mixed with my yoga teacher identity.
So very few people knew about it.
I remember sending out emails with my columns, in 2009.
In 2010 I had my own website, and a facebook account. Which I deleted later on and changed it into a business page on Facebook.
In December I joined Twitter, which turned out to be not just good for having my blog read; but it also turned out to be a great dating tool.
I could connect to men I liked.
Instead of wasting time sending polite “no thank you” messages or “I don’t think this is going to work”.
Whereas on Twitter, it’s clear you can’t just barge in on DM “Hey you look cute” and expect an answer.
Because Twitter is of course not a dating site.
Anyway, that was all really nice and I started making friends as LS Harteveld, and although they never called me Lauren once they knew my real name, it was immediately clear that the friends I made on social media as LS Harteveld, were more my crowd than the ones I met in real life where I was dependent on my income as a yoga teacher.
I felt free as LS Harteveld.
I was just pretending to be a yoga teacher X hours a week, so that LS Harteveld could live.
In 2017 I published my ten books, as LS Harteveld.
But it wasn’t until October this year (2018) that I quit teaching yoga.
LS Harteveld was “already” twelve years old, and I was now free to actually become her.
And I did.
My old identity felt exploited, used. As if she had warded off the forces of the world, for twelve years, so that the real and new side of me could grow.
When I speak about my old identity, I tell people I sent her on a lifelong sex vacation.
Her name still exists. But it’s an empty shell. My “real” name is for the people who are not part of my chosen life.
And who are in my life by default because they work at organisations I have to deal with, or because they’re family or neighbors.
I have spoken about this choice before:
“I am not going to waste energy, trying to explain myself within those circles. If I would do that, I will have no more energy left to do what matters, and to build the career and the life I want.”
And it wasn’t until today, that I realized why that was so smart!
WHY indeed, you should avoid getting into arguments with people in your closest social circle;
Because they have no interest in you breaking free.
My initial reasons however, to never invest in converting my loved ones, any more than I would convert my neighbors, were extremely practical.
I knew my ideas on liberated sexuality, liberated work, liberated everything, were incompatible with the safety and the reassurance of living a normal life.
I didn’t want them to worry sick.
I knew I was taking tremendous risks financially, and also mentally, and could end up broke or suicidal. Although ironically, I never saw them happening both.
Either I would accept a job I didn’t like, in which case I would risk getting suicidal.
Or I would go broke and homeless, but I didn’t see me killing myself over that at all. I would hate it- I love a warm home, privacy and getting a good night sleep- but being homeless would be a temporary thing.
A job, in my opinion, was way more likely to be ended by suicide because it would be a big deal to put your family through the ordeal of you quitting or expect society to pay for your welfare if you were too big of a princessa to work.
And if I am homeless they’re already worrying, and the worst nightmare scenario has already come into play.
If I m homeless I would be extra motivated to carry on, so that it hasn’t been for nothing.
What I have done so far, in explaining myself to my family, is that I ve told them that in 2019 I might have to take a job I don’t like, but that when I do the clock starts ticking.
“I may be able to endure it three weeks, or three months or three years. But there comes a time when I m going to quit, and I better have made a fuckload of progress in my writing career by then, because after that I will not have the strength to go back and take another job.
A job will buy me time, but it will not be a solution.”
So in a way of course I have prepared them, that things may not go as planned. I do try to share what my life is about, especially because they will be the ones suffering the most.
They are the ones worried sick, and of course they also like the idea of me becoming famous.
If only because then they can stop worrying!
It’s just that in the process of it, I have to make brutal choices whose concerns I am going to address. And aside from my recent family update to them – there will not be room to reassure worried family members.
Or to invest in sensitive family dynamics.
There is simply too much at stake for me.
Okay, that was a long story, but those were just the initial reasons, of me not going to fight for a name change/full acceptance in my closest circle.
And as for the organisations, neighbors, and even my ex-students, my real official name, has the added benefit of not having to show who I am.
Of not having the plumber Googling you and then finding your book store filled with sex.
That is already a great reason to not change your legal name; it provides you anonymity. You can be famous on the internet under your alias, and at the same time run a normal household like anybody else.
But yesterday I wrote a post, which has now opened my eyes as to why that is.
Why I ve always felt that the biggest resistance, but also the biggest threat to me (and most likely: to anyone!) is in the circle of people who do not CHOOSE you.
Nor do you choose them.
It’s very much like the difference between a dating site and Twitter:
On a dating site I behave as if we are all living in the same building; you stay polite because you run into each other.
Yet I m constantly aware that I m surrounded by people who didn’t earn their right to get this close. Nor did they choose my company.
There is a total lack of reciprocity.
Yet on Twitter I behave like we live in the same city;
There’s no reason to talk unless we both want to.
And I expect you to keep your distance, and will call you out on it if you don’t.
To me, the boundaries on Twitter are much clearer. You have to work, in order for the other person to like you. And even then they may not feel like teaming up.
On Facebook you’re with the people you went to high school with;
On Twitter you’re with people you wish you went to high school with.
On Twitter, as with your chosen circle of friends, there’s much more space, room to breathe.
But yesterday’s post made me realize WHY that is!
Why there is such a big difference between the people you choose (and preferably, you choose them time and time again) and the circles that are by default.
And where leaving would be a big deal.
The social structure underlying a family, a school, a business; but even under historic relationships symbolized by Facebook, that social structure is morality.
It is a set of unwritten rules on who is good and who is not.
And what is a good employee, a good sister, a good mother; and what is not.
And in order be part of the group you must be willing to look good.
You can behave in an entirely different way! Like for instance, if I had it in me to pretend for my family that everything was okay, I would really have been doing them a favor.
Same thing with fidelity: as long as you are good spouse, and SAY that you’re faithful, you will most likely get away with it.
The structure only asks that you put up a good front; you must pretend you’re playing by the rules.
But in reality, what this structure asks of you, is that you surrender to the group.
And explain yourself to any member who questions if you are “good” enough.
Social structures are based on morality, which is to say they are Big Brother is Watching you mayhem.
They are motherfucking hell on earth.
And especially because it is the ones who have a little bit of power, acquired through the structure, who will want to hold on to it by holding you accountable.
It’s in condemning short skirts.
Condemning how you choose to live your life.
Condemning not choosing anything and simply putting one foot in front of the other.
And by condemning I mean, thinking that subject that is even open for discussion because you live in the same building, are in the same circle of friends, are a member of the same family, or because someone is your teacher or an official you are dependent on.
All these subjects should never ever be up for discussion.
I strongly URGE you to recognize that no one has the right to do that,
nor is it ever of your concern how others score on these points.
The line is crossed because within the group people are aware that the others need the group.
And that escaping comes at great cost, for example losing the entire circle of friends or your in-laws.
It was Thursday December 13, when I went to the Chamber of Commerce. By train, bike, and I got lost so it took me a long time to find it.
And then at the office too, things took really long because it was really complicated.
But when I left, I had a company called Lauren Harteveld.
And by that, I could now officially call myself Lauren Harteveld.
She would do all the writing, but also if I would go to work, it would be under her name. So that it was always clear WHO I was.
And that I didn’t do normal.
I didn’t do morality.
And I was accountable for one thing, and one thing only:
For being Lauren Harteveld.
An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living
7-Figure Rock Star Writer
Change your name, up your game is episode 13 of my project 7-figure rock star writer
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I quit writing (about my love life)
Project M. and in particular its last chapter Like a Prayer is my final diary for an indefinite period of time.
I ve been writing about my love life, pretty much non-stop, since 2006, the moment I became single. And although it has brought me many things – in particular the opportunity to have relationships that are way out of my league – it has now started to constrict me.
The cage of self-reflection and transparency, that I built to protect myself, has become a prison.
I need to start living, and start experiencing life, without the pen.
Or at least without diary writing/ blogging about my real life.
I m going to use this time to create my four new books
One Dutch book with columns:
Verhalen over mannen, macht en dagjes uit
One English book with columns:
I M NOT CHANGING MY FUCKING SHOW
One English book about Mistresshood:
The Big Mistress
And one diary 2017-2018, called Reboot.
Which will also include my last diary Project M.