Initial mismatch

There is something that I've been wondering about but don't know anyone personally to ask, so I was hoping that perhaps readers here would have some experience and could shed some light on the question.

What's it like when your full name and nickname begin with different letters?

The situation that I'm most interested in is when the person doesn't exclusively go by the nickname. So, for example, someone who goes by both Catherine and Kate or Elizabeth/Beth or William/Liam on a regular basis. What initial feels like *yours*? Both?
I know, from my mom's experience, that going exclusively by a nickname except when dealing with legal documents can create a distance between you and your full name, but in her case, they both start with the same letter. I'm guessing that it's a similar situation when someone exclusively goes by a nickname - the nickname initial must feel more personal than the formal one that is barely encountered.

But what about when both names feel like *you*? Which initial gives you that sense of familiarity? Which key chain would you buy? Are there other issues that I've never even thought of?


April 16, 2013 4:56 PM

My son has this. He is Alexander, but mostly goes by X@nder. It totally depends for him which he is using. If he's using his full name, then he uses AJS. If it's just one initial, he prefers X. He would buy both keychains. ;-)

April 18, 2013 5:32 PM

Hmm, that's interesting. So when thinking of his name as a whole, he uses the full name, but when looking for something that represents his daily persona, he goes for the nickname. That makes a lot of sense, actually. Thanks :)

And who wouldn't want to use the initial X? I mean, seriously!

Anyone else have any experience?

April 18, 2013 9:06 PM

My sister is Elizabeth but almost exclusively goes by B3tsey ... when she's getting something with her initial (small things like keychains or bigger things like a necklace with her initial), she gets an E, though her experience isn't "pure" in the sense that she actually was able to have a real opinion -- our brother (older than her) is B3n, so he always got things with the initial B. In order to avoid confusion, my parents always marked my sister's things with E.

That said, when she came up with her Twitter handle, she did her first initial and her last name, and used B for her first initial. She also played sports in high school and college, often with our other sister, and when they were on the same team, they had to differentiate their jerseys (instead of just having their last name, they needed a first initial and the last name) -- she was always B. Lastname, but that too might not have been her decision -- her coaches only ever knew her as B3tsey, so B it was.

April 18, 2013 9:25 PM

That was really interesting. I wonder what would have happened if your parents had used E to label her things. I suppose a lot of the identification would stem from the precedent set by parents, eh? I hadn't really thought about that before, so thanks for responding.

April 24, 2013 12:33 PM

My boyfriend's younger sister is in a similar situation. Her middle name is Elizabeth, and with friends and family she goes by Beth. Now that she's starting her career, she uses her first name, Frances, professionally. Their family is big on items with initials, and everything that's hers are B, but I can easily see her getting, for example, a "work" mug with F on it, and a "home" mug with B. I think it's actually a pretty clever way of using names to help find some kind of career/life balance.

April 24, 2013 4:02 PM

That's interesting, too, because it's not just full/shortened first name, but a nickname for her middle name. So she never goes by Elizabeth, then? Which would give her three possible initials...

If you can work it into conversation, I'd love to know how she herself feels about her initials and which she connects to most.

April 29, 2013 6:28 AM

My friend's little sister is named Elizabeth but goes by Lizzie for the most part.  She'll answer to Elizabeth, but I've been calling her Lizzie since the day she was born.  I was helping her make a tshirt for a class project and she wanted her initial on the front and as I was about to write an L she told me all about how she wanted the E to look.  Go figure.

April 29, 2013 10:48 AM

Thanks for sharing! That's really interesting, actually :)

April 25, 2013 4:23 PM

Karyn-I am becoming more dissociated with my REAL given first name. I have chosen a username for this site which is a pseudonym and I have an even different name for an online game that I play. So I have 3 first initials: S,Z,H. It is also like I have 3 identities. It depends on who I am talking to which "voice" I use. S is the serious mom side of me, Z is the nerdy name obsessed me, and H is the fun playful side. It's kind of tough when I get stressed at home I want to transform "for real" into H and be fun-loving.

April 29, 2013 10:52 AM

That's funny :) Your secret identities have distinct personalities and you think of them as such. I'll bet that S shows more of Z and H in her daily life than she realizes, but if not, it's really nice to have those outlets to exercise different sides of yourself. (But in real life, you'd buy the S key chain, if you were looking to buy something that you probably don't need, I'm guessing :D)

May 18, 2015 11:18 PM

My legal first name starts with a P, but I go by Mena. I think I definitely have a fondness for M as my initial, but when I'm grouping my initials I definitely stick with PIM. 

My daughter is only 3, but she prefers her nickname initial to her given initials (B instead of K).

June 29, 2015 3:00 PM

I had an assistant director in high school and remember being surprised when we learned his full name...He went by T.J. Lastname and his given name was Anthony James, so obviously the initial from Tony felt more 'him' than Anthony.