What’s in a Name?

Memoir Mondays

Today’s post comes thanks to The Daily Post, whose “Say Your Name” prompt asks us: Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?


The story of my name is pretty simple and boring, to be honest. My understanding of it is basically that my parents hadn’t settled on a name, but when I was born my dad officially chose “Tracey”. My middle name – “Lynn” – is the standard go-to attachment for a first name that ends in “-cey”, and there you go. Tracey Lynn Clarke is what I was for the first 25-ish years of my life.

What is a little more interesting is how I felt about my name growing up, and how it has affected me as an adult.

I wouldn’t say that I hated my name when I was a kid, but like many other kids I wasn’t particularly fond of it. Kids just tend to dislike their names for some reason…I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you the majority of people reading this agree with me. I always felt that my name sounded boring. I was a kid who read a lot, played video games, watched lots of TV, and “Tracey Lynn” just seemed terribly unoriginal to me as a result. I would have preferred something more regal, or something that sounded heroic. I’m sure I thought of a thousand other names I would have liked to have instead. Or, sometimes, I would think that perhaps I could add something to my name. I already had a middle name, but I knew several kids who had four parts to their name and I thought that maybe I could add something to make the name in general sound more interesting. Once, on a school project in the third grade, I even signed my full name with an extra bit: “Tracey Lynn Marie Clarke”. I couldn’t possibly explain to you why I thought “Marie” would make my name sound cooler, but I’m sure it made sense at the time.

There was one other reason that my name made me twitch when I was a kid: for years I was known as “Tender Loving Care” because of my initials, and that drove me nuts. I was fortunate enough to go through most of elementary school with a classmate with those same initials, but his annoyance didn’t exactly damper mine. I wondered more than once if my parents had picked those initials on purpose, because it seemed like the kind of silly, cutesy thing new parents would do, but I’m quite confident that’s not how it went. It was just the luck of the draw.

Eventually, once I’d grown up, I learned to love my name and I began to realize that wishing for a more “unique” name was a bit silly. These days there are lots of “unique” names out there, and the kids who have them are often much worse off than I ever was. I’ve known kids with names that no one would ever possibly figure out how to spell, kids named after popular characters who have since fallen out of pop culture (thus the name just sounds weird now), and kids who are named after ever day objects, places, or events that sound nothing like a goddamn name.  And it’s kind of a sin. I’ve often wondered if some parents even take two seconds to consider the ramifications of the name their choose for their child. Such as a young girl my cousin taught named Abcde. No joke. It’s pronounced “Absidy”, and I would have accepted that spelling, but her parents chose to use the first five letters of the alphabet instead, and so that poor kid regularly has people staring at her name in confusion, like it has to be a typo or someone forgot to delete the “template” name on a form.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track. The point is that these days I’m perfectly okay with my name, but there is one small annoyance that still pops up on a regular basis: my first name, which is what I’ve always gone by, is androgynous, and in the work world that means that everyone automatically assumes I’m a guy. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve checked in to the work camp that I live in while I’m on shift and had them line me up to share a bathroom with a man. This wouldn’t be an issue if the bathroom doors locked properly (they purposely made them easy to jimmy in case your neighbor accidentally locks you out while they’re gone), but it’s also a simple matter of logic. They may book me thinking that I’m a guy, but month after month they neglect to actually, you know…LOOK at me when I’m checking in. Eventually I had to call up our booking agent and have her permanently change my name in the system to “Tracey-Lynn” to avoid this issue, but believe it or not it still occurs on occasion, because I work in a male-dominated field so everyone’s mind defaults to, “Tracey is probably a guy”.

Maybe I’ll change the spelling to “Traci”. Pretty sure I’ve never met a guy with my name whose spelling looks like a porn star’s. 😛

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13 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Or how about Tray-See. or the Spanish version Tres-Si which would translate to Three-yes. I never really minded my name. It was what it was. Most of my friends called me Woody or Woodrow or some version there of.

    • lol Tres-Si…that’s just foolish.
      I had a couple of nicknames growing up but most of them were worse than my actual name. My uncle used to call me “Traz-Ern” because he said I looked like my cousin Ernie, and my dad used to call me “Boomer”, after one of his favorite football players. >.> I pretty much wanted to hit everyone who spoke to me at all times. lol

  2. I’ve always greatly disliked my middle name. It’s Lee. I don’t know why but I really despise it. I still sometimes consider changing it to Leanne. Katie Leanne sounds so much better than Katie Lee.

    Here’s hoping my daughter loves both of her names. I thought long and hard about them and hope she at least somewhat likes the name Charlotte Elizabeth.

    • I’m curious for the day that my kid finds out (and/or comprehends the fact) that she was named after two men….ha ha ha… Granted we used the female versions of those two names, but based on how I think I would have reacted when I was younger, I’m looking forward to some major emo-bullshit. lol

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