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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

Making the switch from a nickname to a full name.

As someone who actively sought to keep my full name under wraps for the first eighteen or so years of my life, I stunned myself by choosing to use Carlin (as opposed to Carly) when I committed to Kenyon College. In reality, the change was not drastic; after all, the two have the same number of syllables. Why my parents chose to ascribe that particular nickname to me is beyond me… though I will say that I prefer it to Car, Lin, and Carl.

I have to admit that I still refer to myself sometimes using my nickname from my childhood but the amount of times this happens is becoming less and less frequent. I believe this is a combination of two things: 1) hearing others use my full name, and 2) settling into a newfound sense of self.

With time and repetition comes familiarity. Years ago, going to the doctor’s office or roll call with a substitute teacher were the only times that I heard my full name. Now, I hear my name from my professors, friends, and local baristas when I order my 2nd iced coffee for the day. It’s still strange… and it’s been a year and a half.

Carlin is everything that Carly was, only I’d like to think she’s got a little more fire in her eyes and is a little less afraid of life.

I know more people who have made the switch to a nickname at the start of a new school or work experience than those who go by their full name, but I believe the reasoning behind the change is relatively the same: we want to remold ourselves and/or see if a new label suits us.

Even though many people are content with the way they were seen in high school/childhood, there are some of us who wish to try our hands at a more professional life. For me, Carlin seemed like my best bet. Carlin was different and I liked the way it sounded on my tongue. It was a name I could put on my resume or introduce myself as while keeping a bit of mystery for myself… Who was she?

I didn’t want a complete overhaul of my personality—in fact, that is something I wanted to make sure I didn’t do. I wanted to make sure that Carlin was more authentic and less shy than Carly, who had a bad habit of letting people steam-roll her into taking on more than she could chew. As Carlin, I was in charge. I was—and still am—me; not to mention that as I grow older and learn more about myself and my own gender identity, I’ve found that Carlin is a more gender-neutral name.

When going back home, Carly slips back into place. I’m no longer referred to by other people as Carlin. I’m the girl (well, debatable) from home. The wannabe novelist who left Connecticut for Ohio, of all places! There is a definite sense of disconnect—one that I’m working through even after I have returned back to Kenyon College for classes this spring.

In a sense, both names are a part of who I am, but there is the ongoing debacle stewing inside that wonders which name will prevail–as if they are two boxers fighting against each other with seemingly no end in sight.

College is a time of exploration and growth, I have to tell myself. And while I’m not quite sure where Carlin will take me, I’m glad to have a different name to the same face.

Carlin Steere is a writer and poet at Kenyon College. When she's not on campus, she can be found on the beaches of Connecticut with a notebook in hand.