My Name is Jennifer, Not Jen

“Do you go by Jennifer or Jen?” asked a fellow blogger also named Jennifer. I felt immediate relief and kinship with this woman I had just met. After all, only another Jennifer would understand how loaded and important this simple question could be.

If you’re asking yourself why, you’re not part of the Jennifer Club. It’s probably never occurred to you to even think about it. But as a woman who is often called the wrong name, calling someone by the right name is a serious hot button with me.

My Name Is Jennifer

On more occasions that I can possibly count, I’ve introduced myself as Jennifer only to have the person say,”Nice to meet you, Jen” right back. The problem is, I’m not a Jen, Jenn or Jenna. In fact, I have never once referred to myself as Jen or even written that name in reference to myself. But somehow, our culture has decided that it is okay to shorten or automatically nickname Jennifers in particular.

I’m not one to get my panties in a bunch. Normally, I politely say, “Actually, it’s Jennifer” or “Would you mind calling me Jennifer?” But I’m always surprised that the person acts offended, as if they weren’t the one who called me by the wrong name.

When I meet a Deborah, I don’t called her Debbie. If I’m introduced to a Cheryl, I don’t say, “So Cher. What are you up to today?” If I run into Elizabeth, I don’t call out to her as Liza. I’m guessing you don’t either. But the name Jennifer is so generic it seems people don’t think it matters what they call you. But it does.

Growing up, everyone called me Jenny. I liked being a Jenny. It suited me. When I was little, my best friend was…. a Jenny! We moved right before 8th grade, and I took the opportunity for people to call me Jennifer. It fit me better by age 12. Today, Jenny suits me for family and close friends, which is why I named this blog Mommy Evolution. I wanted this cyber space to be a community where I could share what I was all about and invite others to join me in the journey of evolving.

In my 20s, two of my closest friends were named Jennifer. But one girl was a Jen, one was a Jenny and then there was me, the Jennifer. It always made me laugh when we were out and had to introduce ourselves.

Please don’t think I’m being prissy or snarky. I’m just asking folks to pay attention to people’s names and respect that. I don’t butcher your name or arbitrarily call you something else. Please afford me the same courtesy. And if you meet me on the street, you can call me Jenny. After all, you are a part of my inner circle and a member of my Jenny Evolution.

IS IT A SURPRISE TO YOU THAT MANY JENNIFERS ARE PARTICULAR ABOUT THEIR NAMES?

Now go rock out with your bad self with The Ting Tings’ song That’s Not My Name

47 Comments

  1. Drives me nuts with my husband- he’s Michael. Except people call him Mike. He’s given in and uses that plenty, but it’s not his preferred and annoys me that he can’t use the name he wants to, his real name.

  2. Hi Jen . n . i . fer

    I totally understand this. I have a bit similar problem.

    My name is Cheryl but I’m called everything from Carol to Carla, Shirley to Cher . . . and don’t even talk about all the weird spellings on my mail.

    For a while, I even tried using “C. A. xxxxxxx on business cards, but stopped because those are initials of another family member, too.

    Oh well, we all have our crosses to bear!
    Just thought I’d share your pain πŸ™‚

  3. Hahaha – try being Vickie. Not Vicky, nor Vicki, or even Vikki. And my name is NOT short for Victoria, though for many others it is. Of course, we can all copy the attitude of my husband, who doesn’t care what you call him – just as long as you call him when the food is ready! πŸ™‚

    1. LOL! It’s true — many men just want to know when dinner is πŸ™‚ I have to bet that people constantly butcher the spelling of your name, though.

  4. Yeah my name is Shannon and I actually had people that would call me Shann. Not sure what that is even about. If you wanted to be Jen or Shann you would introduce yourself as much. Also at one time my first husband’s family couldn’t get that my name was Shannon and not Sharon, until I finally got pi$$ed off one day and yelled at them about it. They always got my name right after that.

  5. That’s crazy and so true!! You are so right about people being offended! I feel bad for you. I’ll ask someone their name and sometimes they’ll say you can call me either and I always say “but it’s your name what do you prefer?” And they tell me. I feel like that’s your situation, they got tired of correcting and just say whatever. I don’t like ker I like my name Kerry so call me that;)

    1. Will do, Kerry. You’re right. It does get tiring. But then when I hear someone call me Jen it drives me insane. I’d rather keep my sanity πŸ™‚

  6. It was a pronunciation thing for me. I correct people politely, but what stood out was when I corrected someone on how to say my name & she responded with “whatever” Um…ok, I’ll mispronounce your name too!

  7. I always think of you as “jenny” because of your blog name lol. I don’t particularly like being called “Hersh” but it happens all the time so I know the feeling. Btw I love that song.

  8. I get that also.

    My friends who know me from before adulthood call me Pat. I have no problem with that because that is what people called me back in the day and that is fine with me because they knew me when I was a kid.

    People that call me Pat since I graduated grate me as I like Patrick. I have a co-worker that still calls Pat after I have repeatedly told him I like Patrick. I mean we are taking about years. It wasn’t until I made it four-letter clear during a meeting with a lot of supervision there that he got the point.

    This how much I respect this. My 16-year-old son is named Geoffrey. I called his the phone the other day and got his voice mail and he said “Geoff”, I asked him what he likes to be called and he said “Geoff”, so I call him Geoff.

  9. I definitely get where you’re coming from. Whenever I introduce myself, I’m asked for a nickname. I know my name is uncommon, but is it too much to ask someone to show respect by learning a name? I love my name, and usually laugh off the question with, “Oh, you’ll see it’s not that hard once you get used to it.” πŸ™‚

  10. Well, you know I can relate to this post! Close friends call me Jen (not Jenn), but I usually go by Jennifer. Even when I introduce myself as Jennifer and they see my website, etc., people still call me Jen. Doesn’t bother me too much. Jenny is where I cross the line. I am definitely not a Jenny!

    1. Duly noted! I was actually thinking it would be funny to write a post about all of the Jennifer bloggers out there with some version of Jennifer in their post title….

  11. Ah this is a great conversation, I even have issues with people spelling my name incorrectly or I get called Mrs H…….(my older two children’s last name). It drives me crazy to be called the wrong last name b/c people assume my name is the same as my children. My older two kids are from my previous marriage and I ended up going back to my maiden name after my divorce. I usually just ignore the fact that they called me the wrong name even though it is written in their paperwork.

    1. Yeah. The last name thing can be tricky… I have several girlfriends who never changed their name when they got married (because of their career) but go by Mrs. such and such to match their kiddos. But I can understand why, after giving up a last name, you wouldn’t want to hear yourself called by it!

  12. I have to deal with the same thing. Mostly comments on my name and people trying to give my son a nickname he doesn’t need.
    I get asked all the time (I’m 24 years old!) if I knew what it means. No, You were the first to tell me.
    My son’s name is Samson. People want to call him Sam, Sammy, etc. I’m sorry but if I wanted him to be called Sam or Sammy, then I would have named him.

    Some people even think my name is so hard to pronounce, they call me “Bonnie”. I’m still not sure where people think they have to right to call other people by a name other you introduced yourself as.

    Sorry, small rant. πŸ™‚

    1. Ha! I don’t blame you, Bonita. And I can’t believe people don’t know how to pronounce your name. I’m actually quite surprised at just how many people run into this whole name problem, from mispronouncing to just shortening it — well out of the realm of us Jennifers!

  13. did you see my name?? I have heard so many variables of it, I lost count.
    it is almost pronounced as Micah, but not quite. If I am in any kind of place where they need to read my name of off a paper (i.e. doctors office), I only have to see them stumble and I can be sure it is me. Then they just call me Mrs Derksen haha!
    I love my name πŸ™‚

  14. I’m in the minority, but I don’t mind being called Jen at all! It makes me feel like the person is trying to build rapport and being extra friendly. However, like a previous poster, I do NOT appreciate being called Jenny. Nope, nope, nope. That nickname can only be used by the husband.

  15. Yes! Love this!

    So, I go by Jenn now that I’m an adult, but was a Jenny as a kid. My family and some close friends still call me Jenny, but it doesn’t really suit my in my professional life.

    I’m kind of a stickler about the two n’s since Jennifer has two n’s I use them in the shortened version of my name. But I’m very careful to check with other Jennifers, Jens, Jenns, Jennys on what they prefer since it makes me so annoyed when people get it wrong.

    You’d be suprised how many emails I get that greet me as Jen, from public relations people, city people, other professionals. I’m a reporter. My name is in print every single day and people still can’t get it right. Ah!

    But, I prefer that to Jan, Jean, Jenna, Janna, and whatever weird variation I get. Someone once tried to spell my name while taking a phone message. It went like this. Okay your name is Jenn. G-I-N.

    I’m so with you on this.

    1. Jenn, I don’t blame you! And you’re right, public relations professionals should know how to spell your name. I used to be in PR and was always a stickler for people’s names.

  16. When I was in 7th grade I had a science teacher that kept calling me, Sharon Wagner, and my name was Sharon Wager (not wage-r, but wag-er). After correcting her 3 or 4 times when she called me that again I ignored her. When she came over to my desk and tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I was asking you a question’. I replied, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. You were calling out Sharon Wagner and my name is Sharon Wager’. The point was made. You also have to understand that there were 2 other ‘Sharon’s’ in my class…. Only a few people shorten my first name, but my biggest pet peeve is when I hear, ‘Honey’, ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Hon’. That is the ultimate insult with who you are isn’t important enough to look at your tag or respect you for your support buying products or services that help put the money in their paychecks. Also, the older generation that are in nursing homes or hospitals and called those names are being disrespected as far as I am concerned. Now I am back to my peaceful self. LOL!

  17. Wow, I didn’t know it went the other way around. I am a Jenny. Strange enough my mother told me she doesn’t like the name Jennifer. I used to go by Jenn way back in grade 9 but I now go as Jenny. I ALWAYS say Jenny. I work on the phone a lot and EVERY TIME I say Jenny, I get Jennifer. I even corrected several people at work because there is a real Jennifer and then there is me. I told them to call me Jenny but they still call me Jennifer. I don’t understand it. If I wanted to be called Jennifer, I would introduce myself as Jennifer. Drives. Me. Nuts.

  18. Wow! I laughed so hard reading this! I could have written this myself. I have the exact same issue! Though as a kid I was Jenn I stopped using it after HS, and for the last 19 years or so have struggled with this and have had the same reactions as you described. I’ve even been told I shouldn’t correct people and just deal with it. It’s BS! I’m so glad I’m not alone!!! ?

    1. No way! Of course you should correct people. I always find it strange that people think you’re being rude, when in fact, THEY’RE the ones being rude by deciding to change your name without even knowing you. Jennifers unite!

  19. I completely relate to what you are saying, Jennifer! My name is Michael and I always introduce myself and refer to myself as Michael.. never Mike or Mikey. Yet, I still encounter people who will say right back to me, “Nice to me ya, Mike!” As someone who is also conscientious like you, I always will call people what they introduce themselves as…. I don’t care if it is a long name… not my decision to decide what I’m “comfortable” calling them. If there is ever any uncertainty, I’ll ask “Hey, do you prefer Alexander or Alex, or Nicholas or Nick, etc.” People have told me in the past to get over it and that people will always call me that… I refuse to accept that. I won’t be rude, but I have built up enough confidence to correct people.

    1. I hear ya! Growing up I had a friend who everyone called Mike even though he always introduced himself as Michael. I think I was one of the only people who actually called him by his full name…. πŸ˜€

  20. Hi, Jennifer.

    My name is also Jennifer, but for some reason, I go by Jenny. I hate being called Jennifer. Don’t know why. I just do.

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t know why people think I am a Jen. I am NOT a Jen. My name is Jenifer. The place that it really irks me is at the doctor/dentist/bank. Someone is looking at my written name, right there, and intentionally adulterating it. I am bad at correcting people. And when I do, I find, amazingly, that it makes the problem WORSE! What is that?? I have had checks made out to me as Jen, I’ve had people refer to me on a professional basis as Jen Lastname.

  22. So true! Thank you for exposing this strange habit of some. I am a Jenni and always refer to myself as Jenni. My supervisors have tried to create a familiarity with me by calling me Ginny or Jen. Not only does this come across as disrespectful to me, as I have corrected them more than a few times, but it makes others angry. I love asking people what they prefer to be called. Please do not assume or shorten unless you ask with any name. It’s our ID and it is personal.

  23. I am Jennifer professionally, Jenny to family and friends, and coworkers who eventually get to know me. But I have constantly battled the Jen name. If people close to me say, “Hey Jen, how are you doing?” I have no problem, but when meeting someone for the first time I think it’s rude of them to assume they can call me Jen. That is something that is earned after you have been privileged to become close to me. It is reserved for that and that alone. I also think it’s dumb to introduce yourself as “Jen Baxter,” or, “Jen Carter,” or whatever. It sounds like you’re trying too hard to be hip and casual. Jen is not a name, it’s a nickname. Penelopes don’t introduce themselves as “Pen Lastname.” And it’s Jen, not Jenn. There’s no Kenn, Benn, Lenn, Wrenn, or Gwenn, unless they prepare to be eye rolled. It looks like you’re trying to make something greater out of a non-name nickname.

  24. I’m a Jennifer but it actually drives me nuts when they say do you prefer Jen or Jennifer, but that’s normally because I’ve already told them I prefer all nicknames except Jenna because that’s a completely different name and not a shortened version of Jennifer. I also have people refer to me by my last name, some automatically do it since my last name sounds cool and some I give them the option and they run with it. I’ve also had one job where there were 4 Jennifer’s so we all took claim to different names/versions.

    I did also have to tell someone Jen, Jenny, Jennifer, [last_name] are all done the times and they still felt nervous calling me the wrong name so it’s funny how I’ve had the exact opposite experience but I’m way more open to the different versions.

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