Most likely your cat walked on the keyboard and the random keys it pressed spelled out this URL (aka the infinite monkey theorem), but if you’re in the minority who came here looking for Mark Pershin, then it is I, and this is the story of why I now call myself Igor Voronkov.
I was born Igor Pershin in St Petersburg, Russia (or Leningrad, USSR as it was called back in 1985) and after migrating to Australia when I was 6, I was mercilessly teased and bullied during both my primary and high school years – kids really can be cruel. I got the “Igor… yes master” quote from Frankenstein constantly, not to mention countless racist comments I’d rather not repeat. This was a constant source of trauma for me leading to shyness which had taken the rest of my life to [mostly] recover from.
When my parents finally divorced in my senior year of high school, I moved in with my mum, changed schools and went for a clean break from my name, choosing the far more conservative and common Mark (ok, truth be told – it was either Mark or Travis since I was a massive Blink 182 fan at the time!). This way I was able to slip right into St Helena College largely unnoticed without causing too much of a fuss which is exactly what I wanted as I already had enough on my plate to deal with. It worked well and had made it super easy for me to meet people ever since (although high school reunions proved to be a little tricky but then again, they proved to be mostly a waste of time – subject for another post!).
I have since come a long way on my personal journey and through a lot of challenging work, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in my late teens and early 20s through things like studying abroad, travel and reading a lot of self-help books (yes, I went through that phase too!), I have developed a decent level of self-confidence. to drop my dad’s surname in solidarity with my mum as he was (and still is) a constant destructive force in our lives – we have both adopted mum’s maiden name of Voronkov. I also have dropped by middle name since it is my dad’s first name – it feels so liberating.
I was also thinking that I might as well revert to my birth name while I’m at it – Igor. I tried it out at Bestival last year for the first time since the name change 16 years ago on all the new people I met, and it fit like a glove. I owned it and did not feel nervous introducing myself as Igor. As a result, the reactions s from people were very positive. Many people commented on it being a strong name which feels great to hear.
It is, however, a profoundly massive change. All my friends, family, volunteers and everyone who has anything to do with my non-profit Less Meat Less Heat know me as Mark Pershin. Furthermore, since Russia is being vilified in the media again my change of name may lead to some racism further down the track, but I am ok with this since I don’t want anything to do with such people in the first place. In fact, I think it will save me time by acting like a sieve, filtering out the people I don’t gnat anything to do with leaving progressive, open-minded loving people who accept me for who I am.
Until next time, much love,
UPDATE – 14th July 2018:
Firstly, I’d like to update you all on the fact that after much paperwork and nitpicking, the name change is officially complete, however my final name now is Igor Pershin. I’ve still decided to drop my dad’s first name from my middle name for the aforementioned reasons, however after much reflection and deliberation I have decided to keep my surname – Pershin. One of the strongest messages from my Ayahuesca retreat that I promise I will soon write about was that ‘Family is bigger than the parents’. This mantra was so powerful that I vividly recall sitting up in the middle of the first ceremony and chanting it out loud several times before scribbling it repeatedly in my notebook. I have since interpreted this to mean that my family is bigger than the breakdown of relationship between my father and I, and that changing my surname would actually alienate my brother and sister, which is the last thing I want to do.