This is a repost from my old blog that has been updated to reflect more than 2 years of “progress” in making my name as confusing as possible.
Okay, so just about every time I start to get to know someone new this question inevitably comes up. The basic confusion is that I like to use my full name on things, Andrew Sterling Hanenkamp, and sometimes I use Andrew and sometimes I use Sterling and things get really confusing. I’m writing this blog post to try and explain the history of my name and the basic issues involved with its multiple uses.
I was born, “Andrew Sterling Hanenkamp.” I’m not exactly sure where “Andrew” came from other than my parents liked the name. I like it because it means “manly” and “strong,” which I hope reflects on my character some, since it doesn’t at all reflect my physique. My middle name, “Sterling,” comes from my dad’s dad, Delmont Sterling Hanenkamp. His response to having me named after him was basically, “Why’d you give him that name? I hate it.” Grandpa Del didn’t much care for his name, though I can’t say I blame him with “Delmont” as his first name. (Though, I’m told he seemed to like his first name. Go figure.)
When I was a wee short person, I went by the name “Andy” and my surviving grandparents, who are in their 80’s, still call me that to this day. About third grade, I got tired of “Andy” and started demanding that everyone call me a serious name, “Andrew.” (No offense to the Andy’s out there, I was a third grader and didn’t know any better.) The name “Andrew” lasted through the end of high school and into the first week or two of college.
Problem. I lived in an all guy’s dorm on Manhattan Christian College’s campus. Not only that, but women weren’t allowed up the stairs to our hall. In general, this meant that folks, especially girls, were yelling up the stairs whenever they wanted someone. There were three Andrews on my floor. One was a sophomore, he got to keep his name. One decided to go by his last name. The last, me, decided to go by his middle name. I’d halfway considered doing it anyway, so this was the last bit of motivation that carried it through.
Now, fast forward about 10-12 months and I started chatting with this girl online named Terri. We exchanged emails. We chatted. We talked on the phone. We met up in person. This was in 1997, when Internet dating was still one of those naughty no-nos for creeps and weirdos (my email address at the time was
email@example.com, by the way), but we only lived a couple hours apart and somehow managed to keep our relationship after she moved up to Manhattan. Most of you probably know that we got married and had kids, etc. But I digress. When she asked me what to call her, I decided that it would be “cool” for her to have a special name for me that happened to line up with what my parents called me, “Andrew.” So, now I have two names. One familiar and one for my colleagues.
This became further confused when she moved up to Manhattan. She wanted me to be known as “Andrew” in the contexts we shared, which mostly included church. Therefore, many of my friends here know me as “Andrew.” Some know me as both and pick whichever they prefer. Thus, I pretty much always sign email and such as “Sterling” unless it’s to a friend or someone at church. Sometimes, I don’t sign just avoid the issue, but then the email comes from “Sterling,” which has to be explained and on and on…
(All this and I haven’t even mentioned my desire to go by “Master Sterling” since I have a Master’s degree, but I’ll leave that for another time.)
Therefore, if you have any doubt, just call me “Sterling.” That’s my general preference. The only folks that call me “Andrew” are those that already do (don’t change what you call me just because you read that I prefer “Sterling,” it’s not that important), my neighbors, those that go to my church, and family. Everyone else can go with “Sterling.”
Anyway, I hope that clears everything up. No, actually don’t. I confess to enjoying this particular eccentricity, so if I’ve confused you all the more. Great! Just pick something to call me and stick with it, though I’d prefer that it wasn’t offensive.