Who knew a Twitter handle could spark such debate?

One of the most significant things to happen to me during the Association of College Unions International annual conference this past week in Chicago wasn’t the successful presentation of my two educational sessions (which I thought went pretty good) or that I finished my 3 yr. term on my volunteer position (check), but that someone suggested to me that I change my Twitter handle. ASAP.

At a tweet up it was presented to me that I should drop the “mrs” part of my handle and just go with my first name. Anything other than “mrskeegin”. It seemed logical. Job searching or networking – its better to have your first and last name out there. I had no idea that it would turn into a real soul searching discussion with myself for the rest of the conference.

I got married seven years ago, and when I did it was the happiest day of my life up to that point. Everyone in the office joked with me about my new name and they started calling me “Mrs. Keegin” as a joke, but they also did it to help themselves remember my new name. It became my nickname. After Hurricane Katrina and the slow break up of the Student Affairs division at Loyola U New Orleans, the ‘Mrs. Keegin’ nickname was even more special to me because it was like a name given to me by my family.

I never thought anything about keeping the nickname and making it my Twitter handle later after moving and starting over at a new institution. Again, that name holds personal memories and special thoughts with me.

To be told to lose it hurt. Not at first. But then it did. Especially since being a wife and mother is who I am. It’s most of who I am. After losing everything in a natural disaster like Katrina, you learn that most things in life aren’t important. Your family is. Your health is.

Without really discussing why I had mrskeegin as a handle, I casually asked others what they thought of me changing it.  Many told me that changing it was a great idea. Probably most were perplexed that I even went that direction (with the Mrs.) in the first place. Some said that they knew me as “mrskeegin”. It was my brand and they thought I should keep it.

I mulled over it for days.

I finally decided that if a simple thing like getting anxious over a Twitter name was creating this much of a challenge, then obviously it wasn’t worth it. Trying to discuss why the name meant something to me created too many feelings and emotions and that’s just ridiculous. I won’t have the chance to explain the name when meeting someone for the first time and who would really ask anyway? If my Twitter name is creating a barrier of any sort – arousing any thoughts other than “Hi. My name is Jennifer,” then its gone.

And now it is. @JenniferKeegin. Easy enough. Now let’s move on shall we?

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