Axe the Dr.

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A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post of a friend of mine who wants to publish her poems. ‘Should I do it under my own name or the more poetic name she uses on FB.’

Someone replied: ‘I’d do this under your own name. Your [nickname] sounds pretentious and off-putting, but perhaps it’s just me.’

God, that was harsh, I thought, even though I fully agreed with this person. Half an hour later, I was on a call with my writing buddy.

‘Can I give you feedback on how your present yourself in the world,’ she said unexpectedly.

‘Yes sure’.

‘Why do you use ‘Dr’ on your website? It must be such a turn off to some people.’

‘Does it?’ The comment stung a bit, but I carried on exploring this with her nonetheless. ‘Doesn’t it suggest that I’m not someone flaky? Besides, I’ve done years of academic writing before I wrote creatively. The blocks are the same, irrespective of the writing you do.’

We went back and forth on this, and eventually I came to admit that my title was some sort of a shield. When I started blogging I was so insecure. Every time I pressed ‘publish’ button, I died a little bit. My title was there to show some credibility, to give weight to my words and to what I offer. In other words, it was a sort of ‘protection’ mechanism.

Back in October 2014, to show up as I was felt vulnerable.

I’m strong enough now to axe the ‘Dr’. I don’t need big titles to earn your respect and my credibility. It’s not to disown my academic credentials, but to recognise that it doesn’t add anything to my writing or healing work.

So I’m curious. How do you present yourself in the world? Are you strong enough to show up soft and open, exactly as you are? If not, what is your ‘armour’ made of?

P.S. Ready to shed your ‘armour’ and to show up exactly as you are? Sign up here to find out about healing work I do with writers.

25 thoughts on “Axe the Dr.

  1. An interesting question. I tend to believe you receive more if you don’t present yourself above others. Carrying the Dr. title carries more weight within academic circles, but for the general public, I believe one of their ‘own’ comes across better. Of course mentioning that you are a doctor in a blog is fine, but in the author title, perhaps not.

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    • Thank you for reading and responding, Angelika. I just need to figure out how to delete Dr from the title now 🙂 It took me only 3 years of blogging to come to the point of considering it’s impact on some of my readers. It felt natural at the beginning, but I’m changing, and so perhaps this is the next logical progression. Many thanks for stopping by.

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    • Interesting point of view. In academia one actually completely drops the title Dr and it’s only used outside of academia as a bid for kudos (I should know… I’ve seen it, done it, burnt the t-shirt!).
      Gulara you could always be “Gulara Vincent BSc PhD” (assuming you have a bachelor in science prior to your doctorate) in your ABOUT INFO and that would be more subtle and still factual if needs be. (I’m sticking to GG if I may, darling…!)

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      • You may, dear Rachel. It was my nickname for a long while and one of my best friends still calls me GG 😀 So lovely to hear from you, by the way. I agree, I’m just Gulara at work, and if students refer to me otherwise, I just cringe…. So, why should it be different outside of academia. Thank you for reading and joining the conversation.xx

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  2. I’m also a writer who has earned the ‘Dr’ title through academic study, but never wanted to use it for my fiction and blogging persona. I think you’re right to shed yours, especially when you’re now offering healing services not directly related to your PhD. Good luck!

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  3. I never thought about your ‘Dr’. But I agree with all comments above. It’s just how you feel about it, it is you and your presentation… ❤ It might scare off some delicate personalities, which could be an important part of your audience… Not reaching them, would be a bit of a pity I think.
    For myself, most people know who I am, but I am using a alias, mostly to protect some of my familymembers of the past who might appear in a less positive manner in some of my personal stories. Not everyone of my family had a primarily positive effect on my life but I don't want to leave them vulnerable out in the open with only my version of the story against them… 😉 So I am hiding a bit, yes 🙂
    Good luck with your decision xxx

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    • Thank you, Marije, I appreciate your kind words of support. My practice right now is to come to essence of me, true essence, and radiate energy from there. My prayer is to reach the right people, people who are ready and willing to transform their lives. Titles don’t achieve that so I guess in some ways it’s become superflous, and therefore needs to go…. xxx

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  4. Interesting. I’d say go with whatever feels right to you – which of course, isn’t necessarily what feels comfortable, but what feels intuitively right. It’s easy to stick with what feels familiar, but familiar doesn’t necessarily mean “good for you” or even comfortable.

    In answer to your other questions, when I started writing online (on HubPages), I used a pseudonym, mainly because the non-fiction I was writing was so different to the fiction I’d previously had published – I felt a bit embarrassed to be posting recipes when I had an MA in Creative Writing and was trying to make a name for myself as a literary writer. Of course, like you with Dr, I was using the pseudonym as a shield, and I did’t even have my photo in profile for a year! Really, to some extent I even used fiction as a shield, because you can get away with writing things in fiction that you can’t in non-fiction, and claim it has nothing to do with you. Non-fiction, in some ways, is more exposing, though depending on what you write, fiction can be just as much so. (Mine is! 🙂 )

    By the way, I don’t think there’s one right answer to any of this. If you remove Dr because you’re worried about what people think of it, isn’t that just the same as having it as armour? Equally, it’s fine to explore things in fiction that we might not feel comfortable with in non-fiction – for instance while I might feel happy to share details of something that happened to me, I also need to consider other people’s feelings. (Eg, I’m working on a novel based on my Dad’s experience in WW2 and my Mum is clear she doesn’t want real names used.)

    The more we let go of wanting others’ approval, the freer we are to feel good enough as we are and then it doesn’t matter at all what we call ourselves or what genre we write.

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    • Yvonne, thank you so much for your wise words and sharing your experience. You are right, of course, doing it for others doesn’t change anything. I guess, I haven’t thought of it this way before and when it was pointed out to me it felt like a wake-up call. I’m doing a lot of healing around my visibility this year, so getting more comfortable to be seen just as I am. I also agree with your comment around fiction/non-fiction. I wrote my book as a memoir, but then it felt too challenging to publish it that way. So I tried to make it into fiction, but as I’m getting more comfortable with visibility, I’m reverting back to non-fiction. It’s been quite a journey in its own right.
      Thanks again for joinin the conversation – you inspired other people too here.

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    • Thank you, Louise, I appreciate your comment about the photo. Well, I didn’t think much of it for 3 years myself 🙂 It felt natural at the time. It doesn’t feel necessary though, so it might need to go. Hope all is well. Enjoyed your newsletter today.

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  5. Hi Gulara,
    I really like Yvonne’s comment – ultimately the decision should be yours and not anyone else’s. If people are threatened by your title and achievements, that really is their problem (and I do think that sometimes can be the case, and sometimes others want the people around them to be ‘smaller’ so they don’t feel dwarfed). But if you’re not feeling the need to use the title on the blog, and you’re wanted to divest yourself of it here, then go for it!

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    • Thank you, Fiona, I definitely think the latter is true for me at the moment. And I did discuss that possibility with this person that perhaps she’s triggered by the title because of her own academic background….
      At any rate, this topic has made into a great discussion, so I’m glad I voiced it here. Thank you for joining the conversation.

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  6. I never thought of the “Dr.” one way or another on your blog, it was just part of your name. It does make it a little more formal, but I didn’t really think about it.

    For me, I blog under my real name and try to be honest about myself, but I also purposefully hide a lot. What I mean by “hide” is, I don’t like to discuss my personal life on my blog much more than generalities. I like to keep that private side.

    I think most people have different personas that they use in different environments and situations. People who know me personally do recognize me in my blogging persona, but they also know a different Trent who stays a bit more hidden here. I think it’s natural for humans to be that way. I know some people who are the opposite. They use a pseudonym and so are much more open on the blog than real life and tell us followers things they’d never say to even their best friends or closest family members.

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    • These are such great points, Trent. And yes, when I think of it, I have a blogging persona too. I’m a very private person, but then I feel free to discuss some topics from my past, but not everything from the present day, partly because it’s not composted yet, and I don’t feel expressing it publicly will necessarily solve my problems.
      You gave me a lot to think about – thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

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  7. Hm, you worked hard to earn that tittle…so why not use it. As my father often says ‘what’s in a name.’ As long as one is sincere… a name can’t cover that up. Right?
    I do resonate with the insecure part, that’s why I started as Mimosa Pudica, but soon realized, people who know me, know it’s me who wrote the post, haha
    So, Patty it is. But for my artistic contributions I still often use Mimosa Pudica.
    By the way…fabulous photograph!
    Big hug, XxX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Patty, for your thoughtful comment and kind words about the photograph. I think it takes time to gain confidence as a writer/artist…. I tried to separate my writing life from my academic life by using my married name on the blog, but the internet can merge the identities with ease, so some of my colleagues do know about my writing 🙂 Sometimes there’s no hiding, so it’s easier to be transparent. Many thanks for your comment, and big hug to you too xxx

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