When I was in the third grade I distinctly remember getting the idea in my head that I should have a nickname. Obviously, “Bri” was the first thing that came to mind. Never in my life up till this point had family, friends, or distant relatives (okay how many people did I know when I was 8?), ever call me this. But, I wanted to be called Bri – not Brianna. I remember feeling like the ‘odd duck out’ even as an 8 year old and to me having a nickname would be like fitting in. I mean if the Elizabeths of my grade could do it why couldn’t I? As ‘Bri’ I could start over in third grade – maybe skyrocket to the front of the popularity food chain?
My course of action? Start writing Bri on my homework. Surely, if the teacher started calling me by my new short name the others would catch on – she was the authority, the other kids had to follow.
“Brianna, come here” said Mrs. Laughlin. I marched back to her desk right before we were about to say prayers for lunch “Yes?” She held up my homework bearing the lone three letters “This isn’t your name – fix it now.” she said. “But, but, I want people to call me that….”
For the next 10 years I would never suggest or even let on that I wanted to be called anything else than Brianna. Occasionally someone would call me Bri – and in fact only one friend called me Bri regularly at all. The shame of having to retro-actively add -anna to any disputed situation was enough to stop me from trying my ‘Bri’ ploy again in an academic or social setting.