I spent most of my adolescence wishing I had a nickname. Not that the thought prevented me from living a normal sugar induced, firefly chasing and manhunt playing life or anything like that… But, I certainly didn’t realize what I was missing out on until the day I was officially nicked the name “Halpy.” I had the assumption that in order to receive a meaningful nickname, you had to earn it. It was a natural occurance, that happened at the right moment, with the right people, at exactly the right time. And to me, that was all the more reason for a nickname to be special.
It took 20 years, with some years passing slower than others, but eventually I earned mine. The first time my Dance Teammates at Rutgers University called me “Halpy” it just stuck. The whole team considered me to be overly happy and excited which made my last name “Halpern” and the play on the word “Happy” my perfect combination. I accepted this name as a compliment to my bubbly personality, and rolled with it. After all, what’s better than being a happy person? I was energized by my teammates chanting my new title while we’d practice or perform in our uniforms or dance at the local pubs in our highest heels. Who knew a name alone could create something so meaningful for me. I finally felt like I belonged to something bigger than just a team, I felt like I had finally made true friends. Girls I was not only comfortable being myself around but that accepted me.
Now that I am no longer in college, the nickname has definitely dwindled a bit. Trust me, I’ve tried getting it to stick in the “real world” but corporate culture undervalues nicknames. Every now and again an old friend will throw it out their into the universe and I magically relive all the excitement of competing with my dance team, experiencing college and growing up when I didn’t even know it at the time. I would have never thought a name could create such a special feeling for me, but to this day it still has that effect. I hardly talk to the girls who named me “Halpy” but I know now that sometimes memories are all that lasts of our experiences and how we choose to honor them makes us who we are.
And I will always be Halpy.