The Trichotomy of Me
Sometimes I feel as if I am three people inhabiting one body. I was born Rebecca M. in New York City and a few days later at synagogue I was also named Rivka, my Hebrew name. As a teenager, I rejected both these names and asked people to call me Becca. Now, at age 17, I contemplate how I will reconcile these three names but more so, these three identities.
Rebecca; the beautiful name on my birth certificate that I share with the ghost in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, Kirstie Alley’s character on Cheers, and Pocahontas. Since I escaped the womb, the name Rebecca has been the name my family calls me. It is the name associated with all of my legal papers. It is the name my teachers call me, the person who flourishes in academia. Rebecca is my serious mood, the person who gets things done. She is the one who learned to read at age two, started tutoring her classmates in second grade, and facilitates classroom discussions. She is the bookworm, the brainiac, but unfortunately, the moderate. While Rebecca’s head is full of knowledge, it floats among cumulus clouds. Unlike her conservative and liberal alter egos, Rebecca is too concerned with maintaining homeostasis, getting good grades, and steering clear of all drama. She resists most societal temptations teenagers call “fun” by labeling them as foolish detractors. While sometimes a bore, prudish, good-ole-clean fun type of gal, Rebecca always means well and is determined to succeed.
Next we have Rivka, the conservative, religious Jew who is trying to come closer to her faith in hopes of being a better person. Most don’t know of her existence, as the only people who utter that name are old yeshiva teachers, Israeli relatives, and the occasional zealous friend questioning where her moral compass lies at that particular moment. She is the one who wants to dress modestly, give money to charity, help people with their problems, and guard her tongue from speaking evil. She devotes her time and energy after school to preside over her school’s Judaic Cultural Society and coordinates other Jewish Student Unions in the New York City area, serves on the regional board of her Jewish youth group, and learns the weekly Torah portion. Ultimately, she is the liaison between her secular and Jewish worlds, explaining the misconceptions of both to the respective parties, but also striving to serve as a good role model for her mentees.
The newest character to the bunch is the eccentric, free-spirited liberal named Becca. Becca emerged the summer before seventh grade at camp, eager to make a fresh start, earn a new reputation, and have more social mobility. She unfortunately was a closeted experiment throughout middle school, only known to that group of camp friends. Becca’s debut was freshman year of high school, though still unsure of the journey she was about to embark on, and not self-confident enough to tell the world. Joining the school literary magazine and Writopia Lab’s writing workshops really helped her gain more of a sense of self. In order for this new character to thrive, she needed to be exposed to new people and things. The bookish yeshiva girl soon befriended two gay peers who after coming out of the closet themselves, helped her unleash her true sociable self to the world. Becca became an activist and a leader. She joined her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and the Write On for Israel journalism and advocacy program. She also became an intern at Columbia University Sociology where she worked on the Understanding Autism project. She was campaigning for causes that mattered to her, but at the same time was also releasing inhibitions, becoming more open minded and trying new things. Becca was the one who started going to art museums, trying new cuisine, and attempting to dance. In order to adapt socially, she had to be aware of her surroundings. She became increasingly interested in global affairs, cultures, and lifestyles. She is the energetic, confident young woman who makes connections and networks of people. Without Becca, somehow Rebecca and Rivka seem lacking, she provides that edge and true character.
These three personalities fight inside of me just like, oddly enough, Jacob and Esau fought inside of Rebecca, my biblical namesake. I have learned that it is okay to be different parts of you at different occasions, but nonetheless I am trying to brake down the walls of these characters and seamlessly be one personality. The way this will happen is to continue exposing myself to more culture both my own, and others, so that I can more fully appreciate what I have and be able to be all three of me at once. For now, I offer you three great people for just one admissions seat!