Trinity Takei: The Unexpected Advantages of an Alter Ego (feat High Performing Athletes and Porn Stars)

11 minute read

One of the first questions I’m asked online (by people who don’t know me personally) is: “…but your real name isn’t Trinity, right”?

The real Trinity (ie not me)

It’s annoying: there are infinite names that are not my real name (for example John Smith, Михаил Горбачёв, Thomas A. Anderson, まつもとゆきひろ, or Drago Lončar), yet I can hardly imagine anyone asking me “but your real name isn’t John [Михаил, Thomas, ゆきひろ, Drago], right?”. So why is everyone fixated on Trinity, then?

Maybe it’s because of the Matrix reference (bonus: the real Trinity is female, and based on my cartoon portrait, I’m not. Well, let’s just say she looks cooler in latex suit than I would). It maybe sounds way too Japanese.   But most of all: it sounds shady. Why would anyone use a fake name if (s)he has nothing to hide?!

Well, let me give you three perfectly legal and practical reasons for having an alter ego that led to some unexpected advantages.

Alter egos are widely used in pop culture

It would be cool to claim that I have planned this from the get go—except that I didn’t. It’s one of those spontaneous things that just worked out perfectly.

A New Beginning 

I hit a paralyzing third-life crisis at 36. 

It’s like a car accident: you never see it coming, and you think it only happens to everyone else but you-until you find yourself in one. Then you realize that it 1) indeed might happen to you—in fact, it just did, and that 2) it fucking sucks.

It all started in the late 2000s.

I got both lucky and unlucky at the same time to score a fantastic remote job in 2009, kind of by accident (a story for another day) which is still going on ever since.

On the positive side, I got to see the world (a.k.a. doing the digital nomad thing, although a rough-and-tumble expat-roaming-around would describe it better). My managers/colleagues are fantastic people. I could skip all the toxic meetings, corporate BS, office politics and bickering I hated in my previous 9–5 job. I could work on the beach in my shorts and flip-flops all year around. I started earning an above average salary to enjoy it all.

The Jungle Club Samui - my frequent office for the day during my stay in Thailand

It came with a hefty price tag in the long term, though: my career started dwindling (a euphemism for came to a grinding halt, years ago. Ouch .) Traveling and working on the road pretty much exhausted all my energy. I didn’t mind—in fact, I embraced it: what’s the point of living abroad if you don’t experience the ambiance, the culture, the food, the people of your temporary home?

I have been enjoying the sunny side of the digital nomad existence day in and day out, at the expense of honing my skills, looking for new opportunities, keeping up with the ever-changing tech world or communicating with my peers in any capacity. 

One day I realized that almost a decade passed by, and I didn’t advance my career—not even a ångström. 

The company I spent all this time at progressed in the opposite direction. Their in-house team built a good chunk of the functionality I was initially hired for, slowly but surely replacing the need for my services.

I saw and blissfully ignored the writing on the wall for years—until I couldn’t. 

Here I was, a 36-year-old programmer forgotten by everyone since the late 2000s, with somewhat rusty coding skills (even if with rock-solid fundamentals), burnt out at an ultimately unsatisfying job with zero leads or even a general idea of where to go from here. 

Where to go from here?!

It was a crushing realization, and I was paralyzed at the prospect of having to give up this lifestyle, only because I can’t get a new remote job before running out of money. 

I have learned an incredible amount of things during my decade-long digital nomad journey. One of the first, and most unambiguous realizations was that 9–5 is not my cup of coffee, and I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid it at all costs.

I started doubting myself, my skills, my ability to score a new, similarly paying remote job (plot twist: I have a family to feed—otherwise this wouldn’t be such an issue). 

I know people who trive in a corporate/9-5 setting and would never want to leave. I know people who were glad to be back after trying to make it as a digital nomad. I respect all of them - but it's not my thing

As time passed by, the frustration kept mounting. My current job occupied me just enough to crash after work and not be able to concentrate on the stuff I wanted to catch up on.

Enter Trinity Takei: a hacker, writer & all-around badass having all *****’s (the guy from the story so far) skills—but none of the angst.

Trinity is not burnt out—he’s just getting started.

Trinity’s coding skills are anything but rusty—he’s been consistently putting dozens of hours per week into studying, hacking, and writing about Ruby, Rails, Javascript, and Vue.js, as well as working on orthogonal skills like social media marketing, blogging, and self-improvement.

***** is still shell-shocked and wondering what went wrong and where; Trinity doesn’t dwell on the past—he’s focused on the future. 

As time passed, it became harder and harder for ***** to get out of bed.

Trinity gets up at 3 AM seven days per week (true story, for yet another day), ready to kick some serious ass.

If you could choose, would you rather be in *****’s or Trinity’s shoes?

Proof of Concept

Let’s move on to the second point.

Most successful people suck at telling their story from the humble beginnings. We only hear about the overnight success, the glamour, the six-, seven- and I-lost-count-figures, bespoke bean bags and artisan catering prepared by the in-house gourmet chef.

Usually, it’s not their fault. After you make it, it’s hard to imagine it could have been any other way. The curse of knowledge is real: once you become an expert in something, it’s devilishly difficult to recall the struggle of the early days and even harder to pass on the knowledge.  

They don't recall it either

More often than not, people reinforce this behavior, saying things like “it’s easy for you because you have… [insert one or more of: connections, one million Twitter followers, money, skills, etc.]” forgetting that successful people had to start somewhere as well.

Then there are the sensationalist media. ’Meet Alice, the 25-year-old girl who bought a one-way ticket to Bali and a few months later, she’s raking in $50,000/month’ articles are all over the place. 

Alice's villa in Bali

On the other hand, no one knows about Bob, who tenaciously taught himself to code after work for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually scored a remote job and moved to Bali (although to a less posh neighborhood than Alice), making $2,000/month.

Then there’s Trinity: zero contacts, money (I know from reliable sources that he barely has enough funds to survive for a month), portfolio, or history.

True, Trinity does have skills, but 

  • Instead of touting ‘Hey, hire me, I’m a senior software engineer’ (as a lot of people with 15 years of steady coding in half a dozen languages under they belt would claim), he committed himself to a rigorous schedule of deliberate learning (coding, self-publishing, blogging, marketing, entrepreneurship), and showing off his skills (coming soon!)
  • Learning is readily and immediately available in today’s age, virtually for free (unlike having money, personal network, or powerful allies). Thus, not having skills can’t possibly be a valid excuse anymore, as long as you have enough time at your disposal. Here’s the ugly truth: you always do—you just sometimes don’t want it badly enough.

Trinity will suck at telling his story in retrospect as much as everyone else—therefore he’s starting now, when there’s very little to say, and will keep on documenting the journey as much as possible.

It’s also a proof for *****. Sometimes ***** feels like he just got lucky in 2009, and he can’t replicate the earlier success—the market got more saturated, everything is more difficult, competition is more fierce than ever, prices are skyrocketing, while he got older and the deck is stacked against him.

Trinity Takei will prove the sucker wrong.

If you could choose, would you rather be in *****’s or Trinity’s shoes?

Athletes do it. Porn Stars do it. | Let’s do it | Let’s fall in Love

Okay, that’s a somewhat hijacking of the fantastic Cole Porter original—but at least we arrived at the titular porn star reference (it’s cool to admit it: you were looking for that since clicking on the link :-)!

Bo Jackson, Stoya, Trinity Takei

What on earth could Trinity Takei possibly share with a high performing athlete like Bo Jackson (the only athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both NFL and MBL) and a porn star like Stoya? 

You guessed it: all of us have an alter ego. 

Jackson once made a curious remark, referring to himself in the third person: “… Bo Jackson never played a down of football in his life.” Say what?!

He went on to say that the real Bo Jackson wouldn’t have been able to hurt anybody and wasn’t violent at all. 

Obviously, this poses more than a mild problem if you want to play on the NFL level.

So he invented an alter ego based on Jason Voorhees’ character from the “Friday the 13th” series. 

What a symphatetic dude #not

Bo didn’t want to act like Jason in real life (how laudable!), but the moment the ball of his foot would strike the turf, he imagined a blue shock entering his body, turning him into a ferocious, relentless beast. In his own words, “his only mission was to destroy anything that got in his way.”

Ugh. I’m glad I never had to stop Bo, and I don’t envy those gentlemen who tried (and by the sound of it, more often than not, failed) to do so.

Pornstars (or sex workers in general) have an alter ego for a very different reason. They are an object of hate and immense social stigma that stays with them forever, like an invisible modern-day scarlet letter.

An alter ego in their case is an almost automatic defense mechanism. It doesn’t solve the issue, but the massive hate directed at their stage name, the persona the public thinks they are (based on their perception of a sex worker) still somewhat protects the real person. 

The real person, who (even if a lot of people would like to deny this fact) is human like you or me. (S)he has feelings. (S)he breathes, loves, laughs, gets tired, hugs her kids on the way to work, might go through a third-life crisis and write a blog post about it, or perhaps learn Javascript on the side. And hopefully during all this, at least for a spell, (s)he can forget the loathing directed at him/her, thanks to the alter ego absorbing the punches.

Trinity utilizes both methods.

Entering the matrix

Bo’s way is still very much under development and far from functional—but I’m grinding on it consciously every day. The ultimate goal is to be able to sit down and switch to “Trinity mode” for writing & coding.

This involves neuroscience-backed techniques, like using a dedicated physical space, laptop, phone, and software setup, and priming the mind to efficiently switch into Trinity’s self on cue (like Pavlov’s doge, sorta).

With time, it should not take more effort than for Clark Kent to put on his glasses to go back to his human self. At least that’s what the theory says—I’ll let you know how it goes.

The defense mechanism works much better already. 

People can be very mean on-line (off-line too, of course, but hiding behind a keyboard can turn even the most docile of sheep into insanity wolf in a matter of seconds).

Keyboard warriors can criticize and condemn you fiercely for work you do in your spare time for absolutely free, requiring improvements and their demands to be met right away. The fact that you have precisely zero obligation even to acknowledge their existence doesn’t deter them from spewing cyber-hate at all.

Trolls! Trolls everywhere!

Trolls of all shapes and sizes will relentlessly try to get under your skin, even if you aren’t a particularly opinionated blogger . Try anything out of the box and rest assured that you will witness a full-scale Trollfest sooner rather than later.

Raging flamewars where no one remembers who shot first happen all the time. It’s just the nature of the Internet.

Dear trolls, bring it on—Trinity doesn’t give a shit. Seriously. Do your worst, and good luck in your quest to unhinge him—you know, he doesn’t even exist.

If you could choose, would you rather be in *****’s or Trinity’s shoes?

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