A very well known fact to Jessicas worldwide but most likely less commonly known by the rest of the population is that the name “Jessica” was invented by Shakespeare. That’s right, this name was brought to life by the writer that you avoided, slept through, or flat out despised most in your school years. But yet, that did not keep Generation Jones or Generation X from over saturating the masses with it.
As per the Social Security Administration Jessica was the number one most popular girl name in the United States for the entirety of the 1980’s. In fact this top tier run did not fizzle out until 1998. To put that into perspective I read a statistic somewhere that if you are a girl born in the 1980’s there is a 40% chance your name is Jessica. That’s just ridiculous.
The Necessity of Nick Names
So how did we keep the Jessica’s straight? We invented a catalog of variations of the name.
First is Jess. A name easily confused with the word Yes. Though this seems like a no brainer, each time the word “Yes” is spoken, a Jess can easily find herself confused, distracted, or just blindly responding to the winds with a “Yes?”
Second was Jessie, Jessy, or Jesse stepping on the turf of a popular name in male hispanic culture, (whose rank lies somewhere along the mid 40’s to high 50’s on the popularity scale through the eighties). Outranked, and overtaken.
Third option, most likely the most popular in our formative school years, was adopting an initial. The most sure fire way to determine Jessica’s apart was tacking on the initial of their last name at the end of their first name. Well that is until you had a Jessica Rodriguez, Jessica Raymond, and Jessica Richards all in the same class.
So a typical sentence you may have had to stumble and trip over in 6th grade during the late nineties may have sounded a little something like this:
Luckily though, I can easily determine from what chapter of my life a person is from just by the derivative of the name that they call me. You see, with each school year, school move, or life change my nick name would take on some alterations to try to find my own identity in the masses. In my life I have gone by such aliases as Jessica, Jessica C, Jess, Jessie, but not to be confused with Jess E. or Jess C.,and finally Jess Jess.
Digital Get Down
As the internet became more prevalent it was a race of the Jessica’s to try to claim that internet identity that didn’t end in a series of no less than 8 to 10 random nonsensical numbers.
- mIRC: JessicaIsAwesome23533974596
- AIM: PrincessJessica4598720485
- Xanga: JessicaSucks3098543987
- LiveJournal: JessicaProblems398752398754048247
Nothing made you feel more special than a randomized series of numbers assigned to your name that looked like a number sewn onto a jumpsuit in prison.
Sure there are benefits of possessing the number one most popular name for the 80’s and 90’s. First off our name shows up on every list on Facebook. We always deserve a Margarita, Vacation, or New Car. We can always find specialized products in gifts shops with our name on them. And one can really get a power trip when their name comes up in nearly every room they enter:
“Were they calling to me “Jess”? Or someone else “Jess” or were they just saying “Yes”? Do I know them? Should I know them. Perhaps a wave, no a glance, no…oh crap they saw me staring,” strange painful wave to be met with a stranger danger glare of disgust.
I named my kids something unique, something less common. “Oh but why would you do that, now no one will remember their name!”
Somehow despite all the evidence otherwise in the post, no teacher ever remembered my name. I was called Jennifer more often than I was ever called Jessica. It was a pretty big blow every time you worked hard to stand out amongst your peers, and may even go as far as to perceive yourself as a teachers pet just to be called something off the wall like “Stephanie” because your school status was at plain, vanilla and as common as your overly shared name.
“You said your name was Jennifer right?” I’ve grown to hate the name Jennifer, to the point that I refer to it as the ‘anti-name’. And what really bothers me deep to the core more is every Jennifer I’ve ever asked, “I bet you were called Jessica all the time, huh” is typically met with blank stares of, uhm, why would I?
So hug a Jessica today and let them know you appreciate them and hold them above all the other Jessicas in your life. Let them know that your eyes have now been opened and you understand and sympathize to the struggles of their youth, and for the love of God and all that is Holy, don’t call them Jennifer.