Friday, May 10, 2013

I’m the Guy with the Weird Name

Hello! My name is Sechin Tower and I’m thrilled to be joining the Adr3nalin3 team!

Since this is my first official post, I guess I should introduce myself. The first thing most people want to know about me is the deal with my name. The full story actually goes pretty deep—if I were a character in a book, I would even say it was at the heart of a character-building moment. I’m not saying my name choice was as dramatic as the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s or as emotional as Romeo’s eyes first meeting Juliet’s, but if there’s a parallel universe with a version of me who took another name, we probably turned out radically different.


The Details

The first thing I’ll tell you about my name is the last thing I tell most people: Sechin is actually my middle name. Few people know my first name, and that’s just fine because it’s less “me.”

“Sechin” is a Mongolian name, although you can probably see from my picture that I’m not Mongolian. It means “wise counselor,” and it was the title of Genghis Khan’s advisors. My parents picked this name because they were travelling abroad as students studying Chinese history and decided to give me a “fun” middle name. “What the heck,” I imagine them saying, “what’s in a name?”

There’s a lot in a name. To me, “Sechin” always seemed unique, exotic, whimsical, and perhaps even mystical. By contrast, my first name (we’ll say it’s “Norman” even though it isn’t) seemed formal, mundane, safe, and serious. One name was for use with strangers, the other for people who knew the real me.

My theory is that my parents used “Sechin” as a “crib name” that would be replaced by my “real” name when I grew up. Whatever the case, at a very young age I had the impression that someday I would need to assume my “real” first name, the same way I would have to tie my own shoes, eat brussel sprouts, and pay taxes. Someday I would have to become “Normal Norman.”


The Choice

Back then, I the start of kindergarten seemed like the day I should start growing up. I thought I was so old! It sounds funny now, but it seemed like a huge step at the time.

I remember the teacher writing name cards for each of our desks. She asked my name and I told her Sechin, so she started writing that on a card. But then I remembered that I was supposed to be a big boy now, so I told her that I should probably go by my first name instead. So she wrote that on a card, too, and then placed both cards in front of me and told me I would need to pick one and stick to it.

It seems like such a minor decision, but I remember feeling the weight of a momentous choice. Each of those names represented a different path through life: the normal path with the normal name, or the unusual one with the weird name. One would allow me to fit in, the other—for better or worse—would mark me as different from the moment of introduction.

It took me a long time to decide, but you already know what I picked. The moment I grabbed the card that said “Sechin,” I felt an electric thrill of victory. That moment somehow rippled through all my subsequent choices, and it empowered me to take many of the roads less traveled. I’ve done plenty of unusual things: I’ve created daring and outrageous Halloween costumes, lived in China, trained in Brazillian Jiujitsu and obstacle racing, and—always above all else—followed my dream to be a writer. My experiments frequently leave me bruised (emotionally as well as physically), but the rewards have always outweighed the costs.


The Parallel Universe

Maybe I’m leaning too much on this one moment, but I like to think that somewhere there is a parallel universe with a version of me that made the other choice. In that universe, “Normal Norman” Tower probably wears a gray flannel suit and drives a sensible car to his job as an investment banker. We have some things in common: we’re both hard workers, both insatiably curious people, and both eat brussel sprouts. But the big difference is that he keeps his middle name secret because he’s afraid of showing too much personality. He probably also hates his job and feels dead inside. I’m glad I made the other decision, because I feel exactly the opposite way.

But enough about me. I’ve never really talked to anyone else about their “formative moments,” so I wonder if other people can remember similar crossroads in their lives. If you’ve ever come to a point that split you forever from the parallel universe version of you, I would love it if you left a comment here to tell me about it. If you haven’t, I’d still love to hear you say “Hi!”

Be good, and dream crazy dreams,

Sechin Tower is a teacher, a table-top game designer, and the author of Mad Science Institute. You can read more about him and his books on SechinTower.com and his games on SiegeTowerGames.com

22 comments:

Jordan Dane said...

You are the coolest guy EVER. I love the name you chose. So different & memorable. I also love this post. It cracked me up when you said you felt older in kindergarten. When I turned 16, I cried. Thought it was all downhill from there, a slippery slide to the grave.

My defining moment as a kid came in my elementary schoolyard when I stood up to a bigoted bully who was picking on a Hispanic girl. The bully was a good girlfriend of mine at the time, but when she started in on this little dark skinned girl (who I liked but was painfully shy), I got in her face. Said she had to go through me and I meant it. I had my fists balled, ready for a fight. She looked at me wide-eyed & shocked, but let it go. I knew in that moment that she couldn't really be my friend if she treated people like that.

I'm part Hispanic, but don't look it. At the time, I had sandy blonde hair & green eyes. But I never felt like I fit into any culture until that day when I picked sides. I've been proudest of my Hispanic side ever since. That moment defined me as the adult I would turn out to be...and the writer too. My debut YA - In the Arms of Stone Angels - is about a half-breed Native American boy who straddles the line between cultures & doesn't fit anywhere.

Welcome to ADR3, Sechin.

Nestor said...

Feh. Your name's not any weirder than mine...

Never mind. I see your point.

Wait. You like brussel sprouts!?! O_O

Daniel W. Cisek said...

I made a decision to use Daniel over Dan or Danny (which I hate), mainly because I can hear my name better when someone says it, and I no longer have people say "Don?" when I tell them my name is Dan. Made that choice about 22 years ago and have not looked back. Choosing the name I used while in radio...is a much more complicated story.

Jordan Dane said...

Yeah, Nestor. Brussel sprouts??? Totally agree with you on that one, but a guy named Sechin who likes them--that explains a lot.

Norman Knight said...

'By contrast, my first name (we’ll say it’s “Norman” even though it isn’t) seemed formal, mundane, safe, and serious. One name was for use with strangers, the other for people who knew the real me.'

I resemble that remark.

Sean Preston said...

I go by my middle name as well, Sechin. Great post. When I was in kindergarten, I wasn't given a choice. I was told I had to go by my first name, and it was a big battle because I refused to even answer to it, and my parents had to come to school for a discussion (and I had always been such a polite, young boy). Good post!

Now, I want to know your first name...

Jordan Dane said...

I do too, Sean.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Cook said...

One significant moment was deciding to answer "fantastic" whenever somebody asked how I was doing. It's been amazing how much things changed after I just made the choice to always smile and respond positively when asked.

I also remember a moment when you were dressed in that conservative suit and I was stunned so much that I said "wow, you are 'Normal Normal' also." I'm very glad to know Sechin much better!

Jeff Combos said...

If I ever meet a you that calls himself "Normal Norman" I will know that I've entered the darkest timeline.

But I am thrilled that you made the right formative choice at such a young age, otherwise I might never have met you on this crazy road of life.

Beth said...

Hi Sechin!
We are so excited to see you this summer! It should be a great time!
My significant moment came in the form of 'volunteering to be first'. There were so many meetings, workshops etc. that would always ask to have the 'first' volunteer. For some reason, it's hard for people to be the first to do something so I decided I would always be the first to get things started.
I'm not much of a blogger and I am definitely not the first one to blog here. I wish you well in all of your writing!
As Campbell would say... "Peace out!"

Beth said...

p.s. I do know your first name! :D

Jen Running Deer said...

My formative moment came shortly after getting married. I picked up a copy of this strange yellowish hard backed book that my husband read a lot and got totally sucked in. That book was the Player's Handbook for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and it, and many more books like it, have taken me to places and people I wouldn't have met otherwise. I'm grateful everyday for that choice--to not worry what other people would think about my choice of hobby, to be able to play make-believe and 'wear' different skins, to explore tragedy and comedy and everything in between. Thanks for sharing your formative moment, Sechin. I am glad our worlds have collided and congratulations on the author blog gig!!

Sechin Tower said...

That is an amazing story! I'm glad to know it was inspiration for a book because it deserves to be told!

Sechin Tower said...

Hey, I didn't say I LIKED them, only that I eat them because that's what grownups do. But, yeah.... I do like them. :)

Sechin Tower said...

Radio names and superhero names are in a similar category. The name we choose becomes us and we become it! (Until we take them off and return to our civilian lives)

Sechin Tower said...

Dang it, I knew I couldn't keep this post a secret from everyone named Norman! Just keep in mind that's not really my "mundane" name because Norman too awesome. I mean, how many names are commonly followed by the word "conquest?" :)

Jordan Dane said...

SOME grown ups, dude.

Jordan Dane said...

Nice back pedal.

Jordan Dane said...

Dang, girl. Spill!

Unknown said...

My mom always tells the story of the end of the first day of kindergarten for me. When I walked through the door, my mom asked, "How was your first day, Katie?" I replied, "My teacher calls me Catherine and I prefer that." Uhhh...no, I don't. It means I'm in trouble. :P Especially when you add my middle name. ;)

I think one of my many crossroads was taking a class at community college where I knew no one. (at least, not until I arrived...) It was there I met a new friend and she introduced me to all of her friends. There was this one guy I took a shining to...

Jamie Manning said...

You win the award for most unique name, my friend--welcome to ADR3NALIN3!