Kris, this one’s for you ;).
I never had a nickname. I always wanted one, but nicknames aren’t the
sort of thing you can just go out and acquire. I used to hint to my
friends that I wanted one and when that didn’t work, I eventually just
broke down and told them they needed to pick one for me. After a lot of
cajoling, eventually they’d give in and come up with some witty
sobriquet. But, they were never spontaneously created; as all true
nicknames must be. And more importantly, they never stuck.
I remember filling out those dumb online surveys in junior high.
Everytime I’d come to the requisite nickname question, I’d stop and
dredge up all the old abbreviations my friends had half heartedly
supplied over the years. I always felt like a fraud. Most of those
surveys never made it out of my inbox just because I was always worried
someone would send me one back with a note attached saying:” these
aren’t your nicknames, who ever actually calls you that?!?” Years
later, I didn’t buy a senior women tshirt, the blank on the form where
the nickname was supposed to go stared me in the face for months,
scowling down at me from my bulletin board. That blank seemed so
endlessly unfillable that it managed to eventually drown out my desire
for a tshirt.
In retrospect, I suppose that my name fits me. My unshortenable name is
very much the embodiment of who I am at heart. I wasn’t ever “Reeny”. I
was Serena. Reeny would have played softball in the streets with the
neighboorhood gang when she was five. Serena sat inside and devoured
Anne of Green Gables books like all the nine years old were doing. I
wasn’t ever “Ralls;” I was Serena. Ralls would have flirted with all
the guys and been the life of the party on the weekends. Serena logged
community service hours and woke up early on Saturday mornings for
speech meets. I won’t ever be “Rena”; I’ll continue being Serena. Rena
would go into college with her major undecided and her mind unfettered
by plans — open to every new experience that comes her way. Serena is
going into college with a preplanned double major and a rigid set of
Other people try on different personas the way they try on hats. They
go through phases, the develop passions only to see them wane a few
short months later, they develop other versions of themselves. In
short: they step outside themselves.
Good or bad, I’ve never been like that. Maybe I’ve been truer to myself
or perhaps I’ve just hampered my freedom of expression. But, in the
end, I suppose I’m just not a nickname sort of a gal. Nothing ever
stuck because I never really deviated enough from who I’ve always been
that I required a renaming of sorts. I’m Serena, through and through,
and quite exclusively so.