One of the most interesting pieces of dating advice my mother has ever given me is this: "Don't tell them everything. Everyone should have a little bit of mystery to them, a little bit of something to themselves -- otherwise, your relationship will get incredibly boring."
I always wrestle with this, because I consider myself an honest person. Not in the catty, "Hey, guess what Tiffany said about you! I totally stood up for you, but seriously, do you know what she said??" kind of way. Or in any way that can produce unnecessary conflict (this excludes anything to do with sexism, racism, homophobia or aggression towards cute animals.)
But if you ask me about myself in a non-intimidating way, I'll tell you basically all you need to know. I don't mind. It's therapeutic, it's freeing, and it provides a feeling of safety.
Since becoming an intern and writing for xoJane and some other publications, I decided to Google myself recently. At the top of the list were my xoJane articles. Pretty exciting!
But then, scrolling down that same page, I saw a YouTube link to a video I made my freshman year of college for my first boyfriend. It was my mousey, awkward rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" (he was from Atlanta, and I was/am a mega cheeseball), right from the middle of my dorm room. I had initially put it publicly on Facebook because I wanted to show off how great our love was, and his sister subsequently put it on YouTube using my full name. Since I got surprisingly nice comments and only about 100 views, most of which I assume were from my grandmother, I didn't ask her to take it down. Despite the relationship being over, the evidence of those feelings is still there.
Browsing Google even further, I found my old articles for my past internships and writing positions at NYU publications. I found horribly edited short films I made years ago, questionable recordings of songs I wrote and covered. And, being the only Julia Pugachevsky in the world, I can't exactly deny that what you see has, in fact, been produced by me.
When I first sat down with Mandy to edit my first article on this site, I asked if I could do what some of the other writers do and just be displayed as "Julia."
"I think this is popping your cherry a little bit, that's all."
"Yeah, I think so too, but..."
I trailed off. Mandy told me that if I was thinking of pursuing this line of work, opening up often helps readers and employers view you as more trustworthy. It also makes for a great story, obviously. And sites like xoJane wouldn't exist without people who shared very personal experiences, and I wouldn't be as hooked to this site and so eager to intern here if not for many of these writers.
Mandy, Emily, s.e., Lesley and countless others who put themselves on the line every day and share their thoughts have changed my mind on topics I was ashamedly closed-minded about earlier, made me realize important things about my own life and, most importantly, made me feel like someone else has experienced the same things I have, even if to a different or greater degree. And I wonder: Would the strength of these posts (many of which deal with self-acceptance and empowerment) be somehow diminished or made less valid if their authors changed their names or kept anonymous?
See, I also believe in the idea that no one can embarrass you except for yourself. Lady Gaga was a recent hero to me for turning around all those scumbag tabloid headlines about her weight gain by being open about her past struggles with bulimia and, in some ways, undoing the damage caused by fat-shaming. She deflected the foul behavior of the press right back in its face. And people cried. People identified and felt closer.
Did she truly feel, at this exact moment, comfortable in sharing, or was she pressured to react to the weight allegations and defend herself by revealing something so personal?
Furthermore, nothing is really private, anyway -- we all know how permanent the internet can be, despite nothing actually being written in ink or stone or what-have-you. That said, the idea of having everything on the Internet still makes a considerable part of me want to run for the hills. Is there a happy medium? Help me decide my life, or, at the very least, a shiny new pen name that isn't "Jay Pugz."