So how then did I get here? Well, without revealing too many personal details, I can sum up my story in what I like to call [the added value of the "e"]. If you look at my blog address, you will notice that instead of just "lwalt.blogspot.com" (like j.lo, k.fed and other such trendy nicknames), there is an additional "e" on the end. While you might think that "e" is silent, it has come to represent my road to where I stand right now.
Before I began my undergrad at the University of Western Ontario [@uwo.ca], I was a frequent user of my very first hotmail account. I started the account at the ripe age of 11. Growing up, I was a happy-go-lucky sort of teenager; though like most, I was relatively lacking in self-confidence. I used the ever so popular “nickname_year of birth” e-mail address (lays_87) and I fit right in. Hotmail was my elementary school haven- a collection of e-mails from my first love, letters of recommendation from my first job, and an introduction to the world of emoticons .
Then high school hit. It grew increasingly embarrassing to give my teachers an address as juvenille as email@example.com. But I was locked in. My ultimate form of communication. MSN messenger relied on the existence of this account. Luckily, I didn’t have much to be e-mailing about during those four years.
Upon my graduation from high school, I was ready for a new beginning. I had grown up a lot over the past four years. I made best friends that will be with me for the rest of my life. I arrived in London, Ontario ready for life on my own. My new phase was also indicated by a new e-mail address. Though it may sound like an insignificant thing, to me it represented the important motto of “out with the old, and in with the new.”
I went to the Western Registrar’s office, confident that my address would read “firstname.lastname@example.org”. I was so excited because “Walters” condensed ever so nicely into “Walt” and the Western recipe for an e-mail address was “first initial and the first 4 letters of your last name.” Over the years I had come to be known as L.Walt, just as my brother was B.Walt, and even my father known to many as G.Walt. To have my nickname incorporated into my e-mail address was too perfect. To my dismay, the woman at the Registrar’s office had other plans for me. She handed me my form and on it was written “Welcome to Western, email@example.com!”
Needless to say, I was devastated. I was dreading the hassle of having to spell out my new address instead of being able to simply say firstname.lastname@example.org. I had enough difficulty with the pronunciation of my name as Leah (said LEY-a), and not LEE-a. But I didn’t have a choice. I was forced to accept my new online identity.
Little did I know, that “e” turned over a new page for me. Firstly, it sparked my new nickname. Instead of the generic “Walt”, I grew into Walt-E. No one ever forgot the added “e” because it was so peculiar. It served as an excellent conversation starter and proved to be the best e-mail address I have held to date. I began to use “lwalte” as my log-in for every site. My friends and I found ourselves frequently cracking up at the added value of the “e”. My life often follows a pattern in which it is perfectly logical that I would be that one with a 5 letter (l.w.a.l.t.e) abbreviation instead of the simple 4 (l.w.a.l.t.)
Though it was an inconsequential e-mail address, at Western I found my own voice- my individuality, a confidence in myself that I never had before. I learned to think, write, argue and articulate under the auspices of lwalte.
In the archives of that e-mail address lie the documents that led me to right here. Inside the carefully labeled folders you can find an array of life-changing moments ranging from my acceptance to my current graduate public relations program, an infinite number of essays that increasingly improve over the years, an eclectic collection of websites and forwards, an abundance of letters to my friends, boyfriends, family, and self. In looking at the first e-mail and comparing it to the last, you can track my transition as a person. I am certainly not the girl I was standing in the Registrar’s Office at seventeen and a half.
It is often said that your four years as an undergrad are the best of your life. I spent those years as “waltE” and now, when I look at “walt” written out, it is blatantly lacking a certain something.
So there it is-- an ever so fragile distinction that separated me from the masses. Its added value is a small reminder that when given the chance to be different, to grow, to surpass the bar that has been raised, we ought to take it, cherish it, and just make the most of it.
As I stand at the beginning of a brand new road, I am excited to see what this world has to offer me. I plan on exploring the world of Public Relations throughout this year and find my own place within it. I have recently been accused of having too many passions but I am beginning to discover that they just might find common ground in this all-encompassing field...
I am letting go of my past @uwo.ca and embracing my future @gmail.com.
[the added value of the “e”] is now with me wherever I go
Now eeeeeeeeeeeenough explaining, lets get to the good stuff.