The Nickname Dilemma In A Professional World

Nick. Jake. Abby. Alex.

Okay... But what about: Gavy for Gavrila, Genna for Genevieve, Abhi for Abhirami, Aria for Azaria, Nola for Magnolia, or even those who go by their middle name?

For many people, nicknames serve as a means of social accessibility; in other words, making names more casual in order to achieve social gains. They're fine with their names, but they are -- whether they are aware of this or not -- essentially sacrificing formality for a more "reachable" persona to increase social interaction (or maybe it's because they just really like their nickname. Both reasons are valid). For me, and those whose names are non-generic and/or quite long, nicknames serve as a form of necessary accommodation -- a way to get remembered, to prevent potentially embarrassing mispronunciations, to avoid the person in conversation to associate me with the frustration they had in trying to say my name. For me and the aforementioned people, nicknames are a must-have.

In grade school, the case for having a nickname arises in the first few weeks of the year, and it nicely leaves me from then. In those few weeks, I endure numerous teachers' mispronunciations of my name, followed by their frustrated faces, which sometimes end in an apology, but ultimately led them to forget my name and the cycle of frustration starts again. The cycle continues, that is, until I tell them that I won't hate them if they call me by my nickname: Gia. Post-revelation, all is well in my classrooms during attendance. No problem. Nada.

Come university and the professional world, the case for nicknames change. In the first few weeks of freshman year, when everybody asks for everyone else's names, I am constantly faced with the dilemma of whether to introduce my full name or my nickname -- and it happens super often. Although I usually decide in introducing my nickname, I would eventually have to tell them that it stands for my more complicated-but-not-really full name, as my Facebook name used to have my entire full name. In career fairs, I would have to introduce myself and inform them of my nickname for a more approachable conversation for opportunities. When I hand them my resume, however, some still look confusingly as I had introduced myself with a different name than what is written down. Often, in company/committee applications, I feel the need to specify that this was the "Gia" that they had talked to during info sessions, and not some person who dipped all their introductory meetings and just applied for the opportunities. Tired of the explanations, I finally changed my Facebook name as well. As for the name posted on my professional online profiles? That's still a dilemma.

Slowly, the accommodation of my name for society is shaping the way the people around me prefer it to be -- practical. For the most part, I have no problem with this. However, a part of me envies those who live with simplistic names that society won't mind calling them by their full name. I still want to be identified as "Gianina," and not entirely as "Gia," but choosing the former would mean a sacrifice of more instantaneous, approachable, and intimate connections with people who are in positions of "opportunistic authority," so to speak.

I guess for people in my situation, there is no choice as we go on into the professional world; we eventually have to be identified by our nicknames, lest we lose professional opportunities.

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