I don’t use a pen name – I’ve decided cutesy on-line handles and aliases are not conducive to owning and taking pride in my work. I was born a Jessica, along with a significant percentage of the baby girls in my birth year, and have not-exactly-loved-it ever since.
Firstly, as I’ve already pointed out, the name is a dime-a-dozen among the early 80s crowd. Growing up, Jessica’s were certainly never lacking; in a school of 108 students, there were two in my class alone – my class of thirteen. My workplace also boasts at least three other Jessicas, all within about five years of my age, and I’m confident that should I ever reach that point, the retirement home where I’ll spend my golden years will no doubt be crawling with Jessicas.
I’ve always valued unique names – names that make you stand out or set you apart – in a, “Gee, I’ve never heard that, that’s really beautiful,” sort of way (as opposed to the “Gee, I hope your parent’s dropped money into a therapy fund when they saddled you with that monstrous nomenclature” sort of way that seems to be some parents M.O. these days). As someone who loved to write growing up, I kept running lists of names for potential characters, and I would have gladly traded my name for any of theirs: Tempest, Rhiannon, Lorelai, Eden, Diamante.
I would have settled for less had me parents bothered with giving me a middle name, something where they could have hedged their bets and gone conservative for my first name but blessed me with something deliciously weird that I could pop out at parties. It was with middle names that I really favored the more unusual – my top picks for a long time were Chandelier (yes, like the lighting fixture) and Bayonette (yes, like the… gun… blade… thing). In retrospect, I know those names sound utterly ridiculous, but honestly? I’d rather have them than the nothing I have now.
There’s no interesting origin story to my name – I mean, I love the fact that it was coined by Shakespeare, because I was Pretentious Pre-Teen Shakespeare Fan™, but any claims I made as to that being the origin of my name, specifically, are bullshit. My parents totally heard the name on a soap opera and liked it. Also in the running were Rachel and Rebecca, until my parents decided that, along with my last (maiden) name, that would be “too many R’s” (They then went on to name my brother Robert, but that’s another story). There’s no meaningful namesake, no heartfelt dedication in my name, no literary reference, no specific etymology that they found meaningful.
They just though “Jessica” was pretty. Which is fair.
It’s just too bad beauty is so subjective.
How do you feel about your name?