At the beginning of the year, I wrote, “i miss meesh” as my Facebook status. Soon thereafter, eight friends responded with a variety of reactions — confusion, agreement, humor and enthusiasm — as the screenshot below shows.

Michele's Facebook status posts saying, "i miss meesh" with her friends reactions to the post in the form of comments and "likes."

My Facebook status, January 2011.

I wrote those three little words because of a very simply stated, yet complexly experienced, fact: I felt that I was losing a sense of myself that I loved and cherished dearly.

My full name is Michele Kumi Baer. “Michele” — given to me by my parents because they thought it was pretty. “Kumi” — my Japanese name meaning “eternal beauty”, given to my by my late ojiisan. “Baer” — inherited from my father’s family.

The story of my “Meesh” identity has not been one of inheritance. I was first called Meesh by one of my best friends in elementary school, and ever since I have preferred that name with people I’ve been close to. To the only people from my high school whom I still talk to, I am Meesh. In college, from the day I met those who would later become my best friends…to the endless hours I spent in the dance studio…to my final nights partying amongst throngs of college students — I was Meesh.

As is true with many nicknames, Meesh got play with close friends and close-knit communities. I was Meesh to the people who knew me through my passions, my struggles, my sense of humor, my creativity and my weaknesses. You could say that those who knew me as Meesh knew me genuinely.

When I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area and began life as a young non-profit professional, I stopped hearing myself called “Meesh” on a daily basis. Away from friends and my old dance community, I was engaging with the people and activities that knew me as Meesh less and less. And I began to really miss them…and also her.

So, who is Meesh?

Meesh is the person that my close friends know. She’s passionate, creative, engaged. Meesh is the positive friend who’s ready to lend an ear to others’ troubles and triumphs. She’s the goofy, bubbly dancer who seeks to inspire and be inspired. She’s fierce, not feisty, and not afraid to fail. And…day by day, she’s the person I’m trying to spend more time with.

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