How Do I Shed My Childhood Nickname?

Filed under: Baby Names


My name is Kaitlin, but I've always been called Katie. I feel that 'Katie' is a suitable name for a child and even a teenager, but I am almost 21 and can't seem to shake the little girl nickname. Do you have any suggestions on how to stop being 'Katie' and other possible nicknames to use?

- Kaitlin, Not Katie

Twenty is a perfect age to reconsider your childhood nickname. It's a time when you look to the future and think about who you want to become. Since you're in nickname-shedding mode, it's natural to think formal. Yet, it's often easier to shorten a name than to lengthen -- to go from Katie to Kate rather than to Kaitlin. (Kate is an ageless classic, too, a la Kate Hepburn.) Picture yourself in different settings, a year from now and 20 years from now. Try putting titles like "Grandma" in front of the different names. Which one feels like the future you?

When you've settled on a choice, the first person to work on converting is yourself. You've been Katie for two decades, and you have to learn think of yourself as something else. Give your new identity a workout. Practice your new signature and type your new name on some documents. Introduce yourself to your mirror and get used to the effect.

Once you're feeling comfortable in your new name identity, you can start taking it out into the world. Work on new acquaintances first. Whenever you're in a new setting, make sure to introduce yourself, consistently, with your new name. It will be a gradual process, but in a few years you should find yourself living your adult life under your adult name.

That just leaves the trickiest part: dealing with the people who've known you for years. If you're determined to retrain friends and family, be persistent but cheerful. Lean on the positive -- that you'd love to start using your full name -- rather than getting bogged down in arguments about "What's wrong with Katie?"

If some people just won't (or can't) stop using your old nickname, try to cut them some slack. A name you've grown up with comes with deep emotional connections. Those relatives and friends who see you as Katie are irreplaceable parts of your life. Many years from now, after decades as a Kaitlin, you may even find that your old nickname has become a special symbol of lifelong bonds.

Related:
Is It Okay to Change Your Baby's Name?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.