I call my alter ego Jo.
Jo has spirals of lavender hair and a minimalist tattoo of an elephant ambling along the backside of her right shoulder. When she got her ears pierced as a child, she didn’t cry. She’s never been asked to speak up, speak louder, and she doesn’t begin her sentences with “sorry.” Professors remember her name. She dances in public, sings in public–no hint of shame in her hip swings and high notes. Her tongue does not know self-deprecation, and her lips enjoy bending their backs into smiles. Real ones. Jo doesn’t dig her fists into her own stomach. She turns them out, pounding forward, knuckles popping through the doubts that people throw her way.
Jo doesn’t cower in the face of other people’s accomplishments. The unknown is her playground; mistakes are her classroom.When boys treat her like shit, she doesn’t cry. She raises the middle finger like a flag, waves it, and walks the other direction. Jo doesn’t have time for people who try to disempower her. She knows how to say no. But she also says yes–yes I can. Yes I will. Yes, I am beautiful; yes, I am strong.
I call my alter-ego Jo, because she is one side of me–a side that I used to have trouble accessing. Times when I was…Quiet (Jo)Anna. Shy (Jo)Anna. What’s Wrong? (Jo)Anna. Jealous (Jo)Anna. Sensitive (Jo)Anna. In these moments, from these angles, the Jo was muted, dormant. Silent. But it was there. She was there, waiting to emerge.
I used to call my alter-ego Jo, when I believed that I was not memorable. Not confident. Not interesting. Not bold. Not beautiful. Jo was everything that I wanted to be. Jo is a recent epiphany. She is everything that I am…with the exception of the hair color and the tattoos (little daydreams, maybes, what-ifs, twirling in my head space).
Jo is here. Do you hear her in my voice? Do you see her in my smile?