Editor’s note: Cashing in a nickname for a paycheck

There are two things that many of my friends – yes, people with whom I would consider myself to have meaningful relationships – do not know about me: 1) I am a leftie and 2) My real name is Jennifer. 

With an aesthetic as symmetrical as an Oreo (Double Stuf, of course), who would think there were anything more to “Jenny Bloom” than a name as it stands?  Two five-letter words where the third and fourth letters are the same — it has a ring to it.   The “y” makes me seem youthful and down for anything – akin to Meggy, Katie, and other pigtail-braid names.  I was named with the intention of being called “Jenny,” but the “-ifer” was thrown in for good measure, in case I decided to become a Supreme Court Justice one day…I guess there aren’t many Justices who go by their nicknames.

Fast-forward 20 years and 356 days, and I stand on the precipice of my future.  While the Career Fair (today from Noon-4 pm in Sayles, and Faunce: Petterutti Lounge and Kasper Multipurpose Room) will hold a myriad of – hopefully open – doors to my future, the most uncertain part of my post-grad life is not the company on next year’s business cards, but whether I will continue the era of Jenny or if I will finally have to face my adulthood and own up to a y-less existence.

Few people have a father named “Bobby” or “Mikey”– they are named Edward or Elliott or other imposing designations that keep teenage boys away from their daughters.  When did this come to be?  Are these parents the relics of a bygone era, emerging from their mothers’ wombs in a bowtie and a side-part?   Or were they, too, college students who ultimately had to accept their grown-up status?  As we round the corner on senior year, filling out applications for fellowships, scholarships, graduate schools and jobs, who is it that we are trying to be?  Does one have to enter into adulthood with a new nametag, one that makes us seem older than the years that we have been pretending not to accumulate during our Brown tenure?  Though Shakespeare makes his opinion on names crystal clear, the jury is still out.

Selling out on a name brings up the question of what else we are sacrificing of our current selves.  Does this mean entering “the machine?”   Would the Peace Corps be fine with our attachment to nicknames?  Is it akin to bringing a stuffed animal or blankie to the depths of Africa?  Maybe the time has come to grow up, shedding the extraneous elements of our identity and putting them away in a memory box.  Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for, when we can take the reins on our life? — Or are we cashing in our identities for a few zeroes?

1 Comment

  1. Zack Mezera

    Spot on. My full name is Michael Zachary Mezera. My parents called me Zack, and I go by Zack, but they named me Michael because they thought it would suit me better in future professional careers. As if there hadn’t been a President named Zachary…

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