Names are not just labels or our parent's dreams and desires or linkages to long-used family names. Our names are energy; they carry a vibration.

For almost 48 years, I lived as Stacey L Stevenson - perfect alliteration, great resume header, white-passing, and suitable enough for the finest executive positions. I was named by my dad. He instilled a sense of pride in our names. Our names were carefully curated, carrying meaning and paying homage to a person my dad respected. He used to tell my sister and me, "Be proud of your names, and when you get married, never change your last name." We obliged. My sister, now married to her husband for over 20 years, did not change her last name. I did not either; my wife and kids assumed the surname Stevenson.

 My name was part of my identity (good and bad). It acted as the catalyst to success and my crutch when things went wrong in my life. This name was a constant reminder of my South Texas roots, successes, failures, and childhood trauma. Stacey was the name my grandma yelled when she would diminish my self-esteem; Stacey was the name the kids on the playground called me while adding several impolite monikers. Stacey was the name people uttered when they asked, "Are you a boy or a girl?" Stacey, the high school dropout; Stacey, the college graduate; Stacey, the mom, wife, and CEO.

  • While Stacey was confident and bold, she was also tentative, anxious, frustrated, and blocked.