As a user of my full name, I catch a lot of flak. People make fun of me, ridicule me or sometimes even suggest that only crazy people use their complete names.
But I find it useful. There are a lot of reasons I use my whole name, but I won’t even try to lie about where it came from. I made the decision when I was 14.
We were at Loud Thunder Boy Scout Camp attending the induction ceremony for the Order of the Arrow, which is scouting’s national honor society. It was the night my father got selected, or “tapped,” into the organization. When this happens, in our lodge at least, your name is announced to the entire camp gathered around a campfire.
My father was announced as “Martin C. Schmidt.”
I was already toying with the idea of going by James P. Schmidt at the time for some of the reasons we’ll get to below, but this made that impossible. I knew I couldn’t use the same name format as my father. Part of it was because it is kind of boring, but most of it (at the time) was the fact that my father said his name that way, so there’s no way I would. Because I was a teenager and I was different.
Looking back, it was pretty lame and a stupid way to decide, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
First, James Schmidt is just awful to say. The letters s run together and it’s very hard to get out. Put a Patrick in between, though, and we have no such issue.
Second, if I give you three, you’ll remember one. It seems simple and strange, but it really works. When I meet new people, you’d be amazed how many people only pick up Patrick. I bet it’s because of how people listen or how they process information, but adding another name in the middle always seems to add to people remembering something. Plus, it sticks out a little bit, so they’re more likely to remember anyway.
Finally, I just really like my name. James was the first name of both of my grandfathers, so that’s really cool. And Patrick comes from the fact that my parents’ first date and the date of their engagement was St. Patrick’s Day. I love telling that story because I love how familial my name is. It reminds me a lot of the strong roots I come from and the connections I’ve got back home.
Now if only this three name could find the Great Valley. Or a job.