My names and the story of Evan

A story I think is fairly interesting is the progression of internal names I've been through.

I was born Ryan. I think I was about 14 when I first started to identify with another name. The story behind it:

I must've been just starting to develop my own religion as I left the church. I think I was coming up with my first serious attempt at a virtue list, with what I inaccurately labeled "Piety" being a thing. I knew I had to convert people to fix the world. But there was no one I could argue with - I wasn't nearly ready to reveal what I was thinking to my family, and internet evangelism felt as hollow as it was ineffective. The thought of going door-to-door crossed my mind, but I knew I was far too inept at conversation for that to be a good idea, putting aside that I wouldn't be brave enough for years. So I decided I would write a note, wait until night and tape it to a neighbor's porch.

How I left catholicism

Modern value list

Yes, I did that.

In typical Yujiri fashion, it took me about a month of thinking this was my duty, the true path forward, my Purpose, to muster the courage. I'd been raised in a horribly isolationist family culture where neighbors were never to be spoken to if you were a kid, and stepping on their property to do this would've been a High Crime in the view of others, or so I imagined at the time. After I finally did it, I told myself aloud that it was the bravest thing I'd ever done, and I was certainly correct.

I had signed the letter "The Shadow Evangelist". And looking at it, I wanted a new name, a "Protagonist name", although Protagonism wasn't called that back then. Ryan was my 'secular' name. I should have a different name as a Protagonist. So I took Evan Shad out of the signature, and started to think of that as my Protagonist name.

As for the content of the letter, it was the most embarrassing shit I've ever written, and I deeply hope none of the people I messaged this way remember a word of it. A couple people in the world know the gory details of the shoddy, cringey version of "Protagonism" I believed when I was 19 and making Prismata strategy guides. I was a fledgling philosopher with the Protagonist spark but no concept of how it generalized and none the benefits of exposure. Well this letter, goddamn was I an eloquent genius at 19.

The Protagonist spark

the benefits of exposure

But back to the topic of names, I don't know if there was even a small phase where I still thought of Ryan as my 'real' name after leaving this letter. Ryan was my name to people who knew nothing of who I was. Evan was my name to myself, and I imagined, to future Protagonists. From then on, everywhere on the internet where I was more or less authentic, I called myself Evan.

There was a time, probably after some development on Spem, where I decided that if it was my Protagonist name, I should be spelling it Evin. The vowel was pronounced as a spem ɪ. I didn't like it because it diverged from the origin of the name, but I started to consider loyalty to Spem more important.

The Spem conlang

The Spem alphabet

I don't remember for sure the first place I used Yujiri. I know it was after Spellweaver, and I played that and Prismata at the same time, so Prismata might've been the game I invented it for. The name has no real meaning. I chose it because it sounds cool without being entirely screen-name-esque, and because at the time I was still a fan of Attack on Titan, and starting to look into other anime to see if the things it had over western storytelling were consistent in anime.

Spellweaver review

Attack on Titan review

I still wanted, for a long time, to keep my legal name secret for safety. But by the time I came up with Yujiri, I knew that was impossible. I had already left way too many careless clues, and there was no way I could stop the government or anyone else from linking Evin Shad back to Ryan Westlund. But a few years later, I also realized it probably wasn't desirable anyway, since linking all my identities together had reputational benefits, as counterintuitive as that might seem. If I applied for a job, I'd want to show off my technical accomplishments such as this website (my most significant accomplishment at the time), which obviously can't be separated from all my other identities.

For some time, I juggled all three names emotionally. Evin had fallen out of use. I didn't want to be known as Ryan because that name represents my past as an indoctrinated Catholic drone. But I still wondered if other Protagonists would eventually call me Evin when we worked together in person - was Yujiri just a little too far from being comfortable as a "real" name, outside of Japan? I no longer worry about that, but Evin is still an acceptable name for me.


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