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"’Tis but thy name that is my enemy... What's in a name?"

Posted Jul 01 2013 6:40pm

Well first of all, I should explain that I made the decision the day I started this blog to not keep my identity a secret. Doing so seemed ridiculous to me. Frankly, as a publicist, I am always hesitant to work with bloggers who do that so why would I? You're blogging. On the internet. It doesn't get much more public than this. Long ago I had a blog wherein I used code names and blurry photos (don't worry, you weren't on it) but it was a short-lived creative writing experiment that died quickly since I simultaneously wished for it to be popular and a secret.

So yeah, all that said, I don't think it's a secret that my name is AJ. And that is stands for Amanda Joy. It's not a hyphenate or anything -- that is my first name and my middle name.

For most of my life, I've been Amanda. My father may have called me Mandy from time to time when I was little but I put a stop to that as soon as I was strong-willed enough to do so (no offense to any Mandies out there, it just didn't suit me though I allowed one former boyfriend the "perk" of calling me that since I wanted to get in his pants). In college, in a sophomore year media class, a sassy red headed gal I befriended started calling me AJ. I don't remember why. But I really liked it and started to introduce myself to people that way, but it wouldn't stick. Too many friends in Tucson, where I was at the time, knew me as Amanda already and couldn't make the switch. 

My junior year, I transferred to NYU. And there was another AJ (a guy). So I went back to Amanda full-time. But at the top of my senior year, I met the people who would become my best friends and one night, one of them was listening to my drunken name rant as I've just similarly explained it out to you here, and determined that AJ suited me better and he was on a mission to make it stick.

And so he did. Thanks, James, for naming me. ;)

When I moved back to Los Angeles post-college, I kept it socially. Professionally, I was still using Amanda, though, as I did not want anyone to be surprised when a woman showed up to an interview (I find most people think AJ is a man's name). However eventually, I just stopped caring. And I started to let people at work call me AJ. Even people I didn't like (I used to say it was a name "reserved for friends only"). 

People often ask me which name I prefer. And for a while, I did prefer AJ. It was more about who I'd become through and after college. I felt like the person I was at 25 was hugely different than who I was at 16. I guess now at 34 there's still a grain of truth to that, too. 

But on Saturday night, I spent some time with a big group of high school friends. These friends all met me and knew me as Amanda. And for the duration of our evening, I was only Amanda. And suddenly my "old" name gave me a tinge of nostalgia and felt more like an old, familiar hat than a smelly sock. 

And it suddenly ocurred to me that any negative feelings tied to my being Amanda exist because I regret some of the things I did in high school. And at 34 I didn't care about those things anymore. I guess at 16, 17 and 18 we all fantasize about being someone else and I actually was able to achieve that in a way. But now, that doesn't seem like such an appealing idea any longer. And it's not about regretting what I did when I was young (I mean, whodoesn't regret something stupid they did when they were young?!), it's more about what I do with what I learned from those experiences. And that if it were not for "Amanda," I certainly wouldn't be this version of myself. 

So... yeah. There's that. I guess that's a really wordy version of "I had so much fun on Saturday night!" I'm sure you all enjoyed this prophetic dip into my id. You're welcome.



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