Today is my birthday! In the Game of Thrones books/TV show, birthdays are referred to as Name Days. So today, I decided to take a self-indulgent look at my own name as well as some of the nicknames I’ve been given or chosen for myself over the years.
My parents liked the name Kimberly for its Old English roots as well as the nickname Kim, which would kinda cover all bases should I take after my northern European father or my Asian mother’s looks as I grew up. I recently learned that the name Frederika was a runner-up, but after I was born and my parents saw me for the first time, Kim was it. I almost solely go by my nickname. I like it; it suits me fine–short and strong, no frills. However, when I was a kid, I wasn’t as into it and loved picking new names for myself. A few of the other names I’ve wanted, used, or been bestowed with over the years:
- Kimi: my first nickname, bestowed on me by my family and dating back to the earliest years I can remember. The spelling is a nod to my Asian heritage. Some of my family members still call me Kimi. It brings back memories of being in my grandma’s house, playing under the table with my favorite stuffed animals.
- Kimi-Cats: another family childhood nickname. My cat lady origins run deep.
- Cleo: I remember being obsessed with this name when I was 6, and asking my family to call me Cleo instead of Kimi. I picked up the name from the Heathcliff Saturday cartoon; Cleo was Heathcliff’s love interest. I did a Google image search for this character, and whoa! I did not realize how sexualized this cartoon cat was until just now. She’s drawn with 80’s video vixen bangs, pink legwarmers, and a human-like body including a full furry ruff in the chest area. Apparently, this is the look I aspired to at a young age. The 80’s were messed up, y’all.
- Chloe: Not long after I finished my Cleo phase, I picked up on the name Chloe. In my single-digit years, I had a Kris Jenner-level fondness for alliteration. I got the name Chloe from my aunt’s horse. My aunt was a flight attendant, owned her own horse, and played polo, and this all sounded super glam. Might as well co-opt that life by stealing the horse’s name. For further context, this was also the same age at which I thought French poodles were the most beautiful creatures to walk the earth.
- Kimberly: Many years passed without any variations on my name. When I started college, it seemed like a good time to try changing it up again. Using my full given name seemed very mature and fancy, so I began introducing myself to new classmates as Kimberly. However, I quickly realized that, at 18, I was not a mature and fancy person. Hearing people call me my full name just made me feel like I was either in trouble or being approached by a telemarketer. This phase didn’t last long.
- Skylar: This was my early 20’s fake going-out-to-the-bar name for occasions when someone would ask me what my name was and I didn’t feel like giving them my real one. I don’t remember the origin story of picking this name (it’s buried under bucketloads of cheap vodka cocktails and $2 PBRs), but I can pretty much guarantee it had something to do with Good Will Hunting.
- Slammah Montana: In 2007, I joined a roller derby league, and per tradition, selected a new name. Derby names denote a badass alter ego. I chose Slammah Montana as a pun on the show Hannah Montana. As a result, I had a lot of young children ask me for my autograph after our bouts.
- Back to Kim: As I stare down the barrel of my late 30’s, I’m pretty comfy cozy with just being me. Regular ol’ Kim Nelson, Stormborn, Protector of the Realm, Breaker of Chains, first of my name.*
*not true, there’s 2 other Kim Nelsons that go to my eye doctor.