Back in the Internet Dark Ages, aka 2004, I started my first blog. Back then, Facebook was just a thing for Harvard students, Twitter was a long way off, and even Myspace was still just for musicians. AOL and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) were a big deal, and if you did any interacting with anyone online, it was probably on a message board. Blogging was just becoming a thing, and lots of people were doing it just for fun – the idea that you could blog as a career hadn’t been conceived yet. It was in this environment that on a whim, I went to Blogger and set up a blog. It took like 2 seconds, and there I had my own little corner of the Internet, which I called Confessions of a Grad School Slave. During setup, I had to choose a name, and I decided to go with Jubilance, which is my line name (and now a nickname, since I’ve used it so long). In a split second, I decided to be anonymous on the Internet, or at least as anonymous as I could be. I figured it would be a good idea to keep my online presence separate from my offline life.
Years of Blogging Anonymously
Honestly, I don’t even remember what really motivated me to start blogging in the first place. I’ve never been a “diary” or “journal” kind of girl. Growing up I was addicted to young adult serials like The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Sweet Valley High. Every book, movie and magazine geared to tweet and teen girls all mandated that you must have a diary. Where else were you going to confess your love for the football star or lament how much your parents didn’t understand you? As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get the diary bug to stick – it just didn’t appeal to me. But blogging somehow felt different. Perhaps it was the public nature – the idea that anyone could find it and read it. It wasn’t just for me, it was for everyone, a public experience. But by using a pseudonym, was able to keep my blogging separate from my everyday life. It was an “extra”, a thing I did on the side, when I felt like I had something to share.
I could never keep a diary, but the blogging bug has stuck with me over almost 12 years now. For most of those years, I wrote when I felt like it, mostly when I was struggling in some way and needed an outlet. Blogging was always an outlet for me, and never something I took seriously until a few years ago. I always looked at it as a fun outlet and not a practical career move. With the encouragement of friends, I’m finally taking my writing seriously.
Time To Let Go Of the Pseudonym
I realized the other day that while I started blogging with the goal of anonymity, I’ve done a really bad job of it. Anyone who knows how to use Google can figure out my real name, find my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter and other identifying information about me. As the 2016 writing fellow for A Practical Wedding, I’m publishing content regularly, under my real name. My goal has been to gain experience and build my portfolio, and hiding my identity here doesn’t fit with that. At the same time, I love the Jubilance nickname and it will still be in use – on Twitter, my Disqus account, etc. But I don’t feel the need to keep my online life separate from my real world life anymore. In the beginning, I felt that I needed to keep them separate for my corporate career, but now I see that writing IS my career, and I should embrace it.
Moving forward, I’m making changes to Black Girl Unlost, including updating the About Me page to reflect my true identity. It feels a bit daunting to put my name here, but also encouraged. Stripping the anonymity from BGU is step 1 as I move towards a freelance writing career and building my brand.