A couple of weeks ago, my four year old daughter and I were walking to a playground. A man, quite pleasantly, greeted my daughter with a "Hello Princess!" My daughter responsed by saying, "But, I'm not a princess!" She's right. Her response actually pleased me. I'm not a fan of people calling my daughter "Princess" for a few reasons. One, it just perpetuates gender based stereotypes. Do we ever see a young boy and call him Prince? Two, calling my daughter anything other than something like Young Lady sounds a little too familiar to me. Why do we refer to nicknames so quickly?
This concept of familiarity brings me to this. My name is Christopher. I prefer to be called Christopher. That has always been the case. However, people started calling me Chris as a young child, and I didn't do anything about it, but I wanted to. Although there is nothing wrong with the name Chris (in fact, it seems to be a prerequisite for Marvel in their casting of heroes, i.e. Evans, Hemsworth, and Pratt), I have always preferred my full name. I don't refer to myself as Chris ever. I sign Christopher. Christopher is on business cards and throughout social media. It's what my wife calls me.
It bothers me when I am introduced or I introduce myself as Christopher and the person I was introduced to immediately calls me Chris. Just like that. There is a reason why I said Christopher. It's because that is my preference. Please honor that. Thankfully, there are some who ask me what I like to be called before beginning a conversation. I'm ever appreciative of this common courtesy.
I remember being so excited to move on from my first job, which was at the school I attended for grades 7-9. I was Chris there as a child, so I was certainly going to be Chris there as a teacher. But, I finally had the strength to take back my name. I told people to call me Christopher. And, I started to have friends who referred to me as such.
Some might say it's not a big deal. Most people named Christopher go by Chris. But, I should be allowed to decide what I want to be called. People should not make assumptions about my name. We should allow people the opportunity to define his or her self.
So why do people want to shorten names? I can only speculate that my name is too long for people. When I first met the talented author Zadie Smith, she even said as much.
So, other than Zadie Smith, are there people who can or should call me Chris? Yes, there are.
1) My mother. For obvious reasons.
2) Young children who have trouble pronouncing Christopher.
3) Taraji P. Henson. Just because.
So, if you're looking for a nickname for me, I offer this reminder: my name means carrier of Christ.