Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's in a Name?

Some of you have known me for a long time, while others are just meeting me. Some of you connected with me via Twitter and others via FaceBook. If you've seen me on both Twitter & FaceBook, you know I list my name two different ways.This blog explains why.

My parents named me Julius at birth, but they called me Jules. Until 1990, everyone called me Jules. After 1990, I introduce myself as Jay but prefer to write it as J. 

Is there a little more back story? Sure. I had an Uncle Jay from Albany, GA, but his name was really Joseph William Strawder. As a true Southern Gentleman (yes, I'm being sarcastic), his buddies called him J W. 

"What happened in 1990?", you may ask. (Well? Ask it! I'm not going to pause here forever.)

In 1990 I returned to the US from 15 months stationed at Lajes Field, Azores. I was finally away from my first wife long enough to realize it wasn't going to work and decided to divorce. So I was starting my life over at a new base as a single. I really wanted to change everything about me and my nickname was one of those things I could change. 

I didn't know anything about branding in 1990. I thought I was making a clean break. Folks there is no such thing as a clean break in human society. I had no way to forecast the future existence of Social Media. I didn't know the mess I was going to create. 

On FaceBook I have friends from High School & Undergrad College that know me as Jules. I don't expect them to change, so I listed as Jules.

When I created my Twitter account, I listed as J. That's how "new" friends know me. Now I've found that I really like FB better as my Social Media Hub. Twitter is still great for instant chat and for use at conferences, but I there is more depth available on FB.

What's this all leading up to? If I meet you in person, I'm going to introduce myself as J. Only old friends call me Jules. Even my second wife, who I met in 1991, calls me J. If you know me from FB and call me Jules, I will respond. 1) It's not a common name. 2) I lived with it for 28 years, so I'm well trained to respond.
If we're in a conversation and people use both names, it's OK with me. I'm me whether you call me J. or Jules I'm still the same me.

Shakespeare had it right,
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself." 
(Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II.)


  1. I understand completely! I look about 10 years younger than I actually am. In high school i wanted a nickname. I wanted it to be kinda cool and not make me younger so Kimmie was out; childhood nickname of shortcake was out. Everyone already called me Kim. I thought about KD (my first 2 initials)but couldn't get anyone to call me that. Then college happened and i thought hey i 'll do it again. i got people to call me Denise. unfortunately my roommates knew me as Kim and one friend i made freshman year called me Kimmie. So my girlfriends called me Kimmie or Kim; teachers and classmates called me Denise. If i made friends with my classmates or teachers then they started calling me Kim as well. sigh. I never tried to get my family to call me anything else. So after college- work. I still don't want to be called Kim. It's a man's name in Asia and Europe. My full name Kimberle is originally a surname but as a first name, it is mostly used for women. Also i like the meaning of it. SO at work my colleagues call me Kimberle. alas some of them eventually shorten it to Kim. I don't like it and i answer to it because of my family and school friends. I don't like it because then customers (strangers) call me by that name. I did get most of my family to introduce me as Kimberle to their friends. I also have noticed that when i introduce myself to strangers, some (way too many) will automatically shorten my name to Kim. They don't do this with names like Amanda or Katherine. People do this with names like William and Robert though. I don't know how to tell the older women i work with i don't like to be called Kim without sounding like a brat. I really don't know how to tell customers not to call me Kim without letting my irritation at the fact they are calling me Kim when my name tag says Kimberle into my tone of voice. For the regulars i have told them. It's an ongoing battle that i blame on my parents for naming me one thing and calling me another (Also my fabulous genes which make look about 20 yrs younger now). so i prefer a longer name. It makes me sound a little older. In the quest to change my name and a little of the identity that comes with it i now have 5 names - Kimberle, Kim, Kimmie, Denise, and Shortcake that i answer to. one day i'll get it to one.

    1. Wow, Kimberle, and I thought having two names was confusing. At least I don't have to deal with people shortening my preferred name.

      My nephew has the same "add y or ie as a kid" problem. My Dad is Joe, so my nephew became Joey. As an adult, 30 yrs old now, he doesn't feel Joey is appropriate. All of his adult friends call him Joe, but to the family he'll be Joey always and forever.

    2. Perspective is a funny thing. As someone with a gender neutral name, I don't understand why you'd make it harder for people to figure out what honorific to use. Though it does make sorting junk mail easier since anything addressed to Mr. Kelly is immediately introduced to Mr. Trashcan. My name also comes with the added bonus of creative spelling. So I have to tell people it is spelled the "normal" way, not Kelley, Kelli, Kellie, Kelliee, Kelleigh, Kele, etc.

  2. Perspective is a funny thing. As someone with a gender neutral name, I don't understand why you'd want to go with just an initial and make people have to guess or research what honorific to use. Though it does help me sort out junk mail quickly because I just throw out anything to Mr. Kelly. I get more annoyed by having to spell my name because it doesn't end in a -ey, -i or -ie. I, of course, spell it the right way. Ha.