I’ve been thinking a lot about my name lately. If you’ve ever read my bio on this site, you’ll see the following statement:
I’m Bob, or Rob, or Robert, or Bobby. It depends on when you met me and whether or not you’re my mom.
To be completely honest, my favorite name for myself is Bobby. Even after I started going as Bob in college, and then as Robert (my given name) professionally, I’ve always remained a secret Bobby. Anyone who knows me from back home uses that name, and it tells my personality more than the others. Robert sounds more serious and formal than I am, and maybe that’s why I’ve been dropping some Robs recently during introductions and to close out emails, but Rob isn’t Bobby. I know some Robs, and they would each make an excellent Bobby, but I think it’s tougher to turn a Bobby into a Rob.
One of the best things about Bobby is that some people are really good at saying it. My parents say it the most naturally; they’ve said it the most of anyone. Some people put a little extra something behind it, and that reminds me of what if felt like to run around third base toward home plate, or at least what I imagine it must have felt like, because I mostly sat on the bench and cheered for my teammates.
In college I was Bob, with a sporadic Bobby, and that continued through my first job, but when I started working in New York City, I thought Bob or Bobby might not sound “cool” enough, which is stupid because Bobby is the best name. Still, I remember introducing myself as Robert. It sounded strange coming from my mouth, but I figured I’d try it out for a while and see how it went. Well, after I introduced myself that way, other people started introducing me as Robert too, and it quickly spun out of control. I thought about trying to reverse course and fix things, but I was the new guy, and I think it would have been weird to change my mind about my name. Now, over ten years later, everyone at work knows me as Robert, so that became my work identity. Don’t get me wrong, Robert is a wonderful name. It’s my real, given name, after all, and it has a good, professional ring to it. It’s just that I never really went by it until I was trying to impress people, which is a silly reason to do anything. There’s a good chance that I’m stuck with Robert within the bubble of New York City advertising agencies, but at least I learned (finally) that it’s always a good idea just to be yourself no matter what.