Minneapolis punks jimmy and bryan answer Razorcake readers’ concerns in Dear ACABby, an advice column for the rest of us. In this edition, they talk about name changes and platonic ghosting. If you’ve got a problem you’d like Dear ACABby to have a go at, you can email them at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you here at razorcake.org.
I read your column in Razorcake. I need advice about using a stage name. I am an artist. My legal name is difficult to pronounce. I can’t cope with people who mispronounce or misspell my name anymore. I recently started using a stage name. Because I have a new stage name, I don’t know how to present my old work that has been created under my old name. I am unsure how to explain my portfolio when I exhibit my work because most of it was done under my old name. I also don’t want to be referred to by my old name when I am in any social circles. I wish to walk away from my old name. Any advice on how to work under a stage name would be appreciated. Advice on how to explain socially, why I don’t use my old name would also be nice to know. Thank you for your time.
Changing names can be a toughie. There’s always going to be a transition period that can be downright maddening for everyone involved, trying to tell (and then remember who you told), and then remind everybody, so on, and so forth. It starts with telling everyone: it can be awkward and it can suck, but you’ve just got to do it. It can be as simple as, “Hey, I use the name _____ now,” no explanation, but some will take it easier than others. If you feel comfortable telling people why, do so in as little or as much detail as you like; if not, do you, but it’s incredibly likely you’ll face pushback from at least a few people, so be prepared to set and maintain a boundary around your name. I’ve found (as I changed my name when transitioning) that it works to shut down whining by responding “My name is James,” (or whatever) no more, no less, no arguing, no bullshit. Ultimately, it’s about you and what you’d like to be called. No one else gets to fuck with that. It is a matter of respect, and it is not “just so hard” (though many slip-ups should be taken as such—there is a transition period). Basically, you’ve got to be straightforward and not take any shit. That said, most folks will probably make the transition without much fuss at all.
As per your portfolio/work under your old name, most folks will probably take it at face value. A neat little trick is describing things created by you under your old name as, for example, “by [new name] (as [old name]).” Without knowing what exactly you do or what kind of portfolio it is, it’s harder to give specific strategies, but when necessary, including a disclaimer of sorts that says you changed your name can help. Where possible, it’s probably best to retroactively change your name on any work, and you may even be able to reach out to, say, a museum that exhibited your work (again, don’t know what exactly you do, just giving an example) and ask to have your name changed on the website or what have you. Otherwise, sometimes you just have to have the awkward conversation/answer the awkward question.
Most of the difficulty of changing your name comes at the beginning—especially after a couple years, everyone who matters will have hopped on board and professionally, it gets easier too as you become known by your new name.
Best of luck!
jimmy & bryan
I just recently had a very close friend of mine cold drop me with no explanation. Over the course of 3 years we had built a trusting and supportive friendship. I was completely convinced that our relationship was genuine and, as they say on Inkmaster about the sickest tatts, “bulletproof.”
I considered this person my best friend in the city I live in. She is a hilarious psycho genius who I loved being around and still care a lot about. She also seemed to care a lot about me. We were always there for each other, especially in the darkest times.
I am an awkward, overly anxious person with major trust issues, but I never felt that way around her. It was like we immediately clicked and went into best friend goof-off mode from the moment we met up ’til we split up to go home and sleep or whatever. We could argue or disagree with each other but were always able to keep it chill, recognize each other’s different points of view, and nothing ever escalated into an actual fight.
But something changed about 5 months ago. Just something started to feel a little off which I immediately sensed and felt a bit insecure about. I tried bringing it up several times over the course of about 3 months, but she seemed uninterested and incredibly dismissive (even to a point of being kind of mean about it). She stopped checking in with me and eventually hitting me up altogether. I gave her a lot of space as she seemed overwhelmed with work. In a last attempt to reach out, I explained in a text that I missed her a lot and felt like something in our friendship had changed but that it was most likely in my head due to the whole pandemic thing, keeping us from hanging as much as we used to (even though she was in my “pod”). I said that I was excited about the nicer spring weather and looked forward to having “park hangs” again.
Her response was not much different in tone and sentiment as it had been over the past few months (meaning it was fairly harsh), but she did finally express that she didn’t have the time or emotional space to be my friend at the moment. She followed that up with, “maybe it’s just a phase, I dunno. lol.”
I thanked her for letting me know so that I could stop bugging her, and we pretty much completely stopped talking (except for the occasional “laughing face emoji insta story reaction”). It really bummed me out, for obvious reasons. I had basically spent the past 3 months in denial that anything was actually wrong and thinking I was mentally blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I missed her a lot and was still clinging on to the whole “maybe it’s just a phase... lol” thing when about a month later, without any conversation, she saw a picture I posted of her ex-partner’s new puppy on the gram (this is the most embarrassing part of the story, btw). Her ex-partner of 2+ years ago lives in the neighborhood, is best friends with my business partner, and had walked by with their new puppy while we were working on my truck outside my house. We briefly chatted for the first time in almost a year and I took a picture of the new pup then posted it on my “story.”
My friend in question responded calling me a traitor, liar, and saying that she should have known she could not trust me. After that she fully blocked me and I haven’t seen or spoken to her since. I guess it has been like 5 months now since it all began with the weird and sudden distance. It hurt so much, you know? It was a break-up! I was in such denial and it was so confusing. I’ve never lost a friend like this before. I’ve gotten in fights with close friends and experienced long periods of distance, but there has always been a tangible reason, some sort of communication, and acknowledgement of it. Generally these fights ended in apologies (often after taking some needed space from one another) but coming back around to an even stronger friendship and understanding of one another.
It still hurts to think about but I’ve mostly come to terms with the fact that we will never be friends again and I will never know why. I’m thinking possibly she is embarrassed by her behavior and too prideful to take accountability for being such a jerk... or, the harder pill to swallow, that she just never really cared about me that much to begin with.
I’ve only talked about this with a few close friends who know her and about our friendship. She can be a difficult person to be friends with and I definitely should have set better boundaries with her as I’ve seen her through a lot of very intense and scary experiences. But I didn’t and I guess, if anything, I’ve learned a bit more about the importance of setting boundaries with friends, no matter how worried you are about their mental state. People have done that with me before and I’ve always really appreciated it. I try to learn from it and apply it to my own life but I’m still kind of bad at “boundaries,” especially when it comes to people I let myself become very close with.
Anyway, after writing all this out I’ve realized I don’t really have any questions as much as I’d like to hear an outsider’s perspective on this whole thing. I really love your advice column. I’m impressed by how much thought and genuine care you give to people in your responses. It’s very sweet.
This is kind of long and I don’t expect you to print it... but if you have any POVs or advice, I’d love to hear from you.
First of all, thanks for sharing this vulnerable situation with us. This kind of friendship fallout can be worse than heartbreak (well it is heartbreak). And honestly, it shows great attunement with yourself and others for you to have noticed a *vibe* change perhaps even before the other person did.
Basically, this sucks. My heart hurts reading this, and I feel baffled myself. It sounds like your ex-friend had some resentment bubbling that she wasn’t aware of, or wasn’t willing to discuss. The way she seemed to be waiting—and watching your Instagram stories—for you to prove yourself traitorous makes us wonder if she has been experiencing paranoia in other aspects of life. Have any other friends experienced anything like this with this person? Additionally, your own experience with conflict has me wondering whether she is projecting any insecurities onto you. Often, when someone is looking for a reason not to trust a loved one, it stems from some past hurt, or trauma, which guides one to avoid closeness, put walls up, or push away love and care. Does this resonate at all?
Sounds like you’ve been forced to learn a lot about yourself and your own needs through this awful situation. We hope you can, with time, learn to let go, and continue to embrace friendships that you can depend on. You deserve it.
Thank you for sharing!,
Bryan & Jimmy
jimmy & bryan are two Minneapolis punks trying to stay cool while rooting for another hot summer. You can send them your advice inquiries at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.