Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Identity crisis

I've written before about why I call myself Petey. For those who haven't read the post and are disinclined to do so, I'll summarize very briefly: I have little trouble getting people to take me seriously enough but sometimes people take me too seriously. Calling myself by a ridiculous diminutive seems to help.

I've been going by Petey for about seven years now. It's become habitual. In fact, many of my friends don't even connect the name Peter with me. I laugh every time someone is confused to hear me called by my legal name.

Truth be told, a part of me would rather introduce myself as Peter. It isn't that I miss being called Peter particularly and I hardly mind being called Peter; it doesn't matter much to me what people call me. That said, I do appreciate it when people feel comfortable enough to call me by a nickname purely of their own volition.

It's also occurred to me that the effect of my nickname may wear away very quickly. It helps with first impressions and first conversations, but people become accustomed to it soon afterwards. Once accustomed, it may not help them to open up at all. It's even possible that it's counterproductive.

I've been thinking about what to call myself in a professional context. Part of me loves the idea of publishing scholarly articles as Petey. This is mostly because it's a little incongruous and because it feels a little bit like I'm sticking it to the man. Another part of me wonders if I want to be stuck with that moniker for my whole professional career and if it might make publishing more difficult.

Since the primary reason I go by Petey is to help set others at ease, the recognition that it may not do as I've thought has caused me to think. I may go back to introducing myself as Peter.

Regardless of how I introduce myself, please feel free to call me what you like.

Since I don't have strong feelings about it, I'm curious to know what my friends think. So, dear reader, do you prefer Peter, Pete, or Petey – in general and for me specifically? Why? What other thoughts do you have?