People always ask me what my name means, or where it comes from. The answer is simple: my Mum's imagination. My Mum Kerry is a creative, a dreamer and a performer. She spent most of her professional life working as a choreographer and running an entertainment company in East Asia. Right now she works as a children's show producer, working with brands like Care Bears and Minions for a Singaporean company. For a person like my Mum, it's important to have a 'stage name', something totally original that sets you out from the crowd. So when she was pregnant with me, I was never going to be a 'Jane' or a 'Kate', or anything else conventional.
So why Keeya-Lee? Mum says she was watching a space movie where the princess was called Tia, which was her inspiration. My family have been rocking female K-names since the pre-Kardashian era, so it was an evolution: royalty, out-of-this-world, add a K, jazz up the spelling, and Tia becomes Keeya. Then why not add a Lee? So the name 'Keeya-Lee' was created.
This has had its upsides and its downsides, as you can imagine. Regrettably, the second half of my surname rhymes with both 'wee' and 'pee' which made me pretty resentful as a kid. As an adult, the cons are a little more serious: if you google 'Keeya-Lee' all of those results are about me - my surname isn't even needed. And sure, while you can see all of the professional accomplishments that I’m proud of, you can also see any Facebook comment I’ve made on a public page, that time I raged because a Vanity Fair writer called Australians 'throwback people', the positive review I left for my accountant (complete with awkward youtube video testimonial), and read the angsty blog I wrote when I was 16 (better I give you the link than let you find it yourself!)
The flip side of this though is that I realised it early, and I've always minimised the use of my authentic identity online. Not everyone has been so lucky, with people losing their jobs over comments they make online. Don't get me wrong, this is often rightfully so when things are bigoted or hateful, but we all make stupid mistakes we regret and not everyone has the insight to realise what they're doing at the time.
Thanks to my Mum giving me a one-of-a-kind weird name, I’ve always been afraid of internet culpability and I never write anything on Facebook I wouldn't want to be in the inbox of everyone I know, including my boss! Now if you knew my secret pen names, like my Reddit handle, that might be a different story!
Do you have any stories about your name being used (or found) online? Or have you found a second (copy cat?!) Keeya-Lee? Share in the comments below!
My name is Keeya-Lee Ayre, but I go by just Keeya if the context is casual. I'm American-born, Australian-raised, and living in Atlanta after a 2 year stint in London. I work in the humanitarian innovation / tech / social impact space. You can follow me on twitter here!