My Name Crisis

Nafees - Manvel, Texas
Entered on May 9, 2009

This I Believe

My Name Crisis

Many people believe their name represents who they are and they love their name, but in my case it is the opposite.

I am born of immigrant parents. They named me Nafees, a Persian word meaning “precious”. The first awareness of ethnicity of my name came to me in early middle school. I realized that my friends and even teachers couldn’t pronounce my name. I particularly remember my Social Studies teacher in 5th grade who kept on pronouncing and spelling it wrong every single time! The last nail in the coffin was misspelling of my name in the Yearbook that I was looking forward to for a long time. I still feel the pain, anger and heartbreaking at this. As a result of this I felt separated from the other people and, dejected. I took the Yearbook and showed it to my parents with tears in my eyes. This is the time when I realized I had to change my name.

My solution was to be called by my middle name which is “Deen”. My parents did not agree with me immediately. My father said, “You should be proud of your name it reflects your identity and ethnicity.” I did not agree with this because my brother and sisters have common names. “Son be confident and take pride in your name, change the world rather than the world changing you. Don’t you see successful people like Barack Obama or Azhar Nafisi? They changed the world. ”, said my father. But I truly have no answer to that. I guess I just want to be accepted by others and it is important for me to be like others. Later on I stopped saying my name and called it the “n” word. I remember telling my parents, “Do you know how that makes me feel when you call me the “n” word? It makes me want to cry!”

I really don’t know what my future holds. I’m only a 6th grader now. I might do what Barack Obama did, go by a different name at school but return to my roots when I grow up and become more confident and accomplished. I know that I want to be successful and contribute to the society. I’m not sure if I can ever return to my original name. I know that America is a nation of nations; our culture is the cultures of many people. No matter what my name is, I know that I am an amalgam of many cultures and values, this is what America is. This I believe.