A personal rant in response to The Daily Post writing prompt, Say Your Name.
If you know me in real life, then you would know that I hate my first name. Actually, it was only recently that I made peace with my full name, before that I just loathe my name. My first name is Annisaa, which happens to be an Arabic word for woman (or was it women? I’m not sure), and it is also the fourth surah in the Holy Quran. I guess naming your daughter woman is sort of like a redundant thing to do, isn’t it? I mean, my physical self is already self-explanatory about me being a woman, but it’s not like my Dad consulted me before naming me, did he?
I never really asked my Dad why he named me that name, but I have a suspicion that he was too lazy to come up with a new name, so he named me like he named my older sister. The story goes that my parents never knew that my Mum was having a daughter when she had me, it gets even problematic when my Dad was so sure that my Mum was having a son. Long story short, comes 13 April, and I was the ultimate killjoy for my Dad, simply for not being a son. What I understand was that he didn’t plan a name for another daughter, so when I popped out of my Mum, he was so taken by surprise, he decided he was going to name me like my older sister. The difference between our name is just our middle name, which is practically nonexistent in Indonesia. There were several administrative thing that gone haywire between my sister and I, simply because we share the same first and last name.
Here’s what you can learn from my experience, never named your kids with the same name. You might think it’s cute or anything, but I swear it’s hell for the kids themselves. My sister got her bank account deleted because the bank thought there was already a bank account under her name (which turns out to be my bank account and not hers), then I got some problem with the Immigration when I made a passport; they thought I still have a valid passport (which turns out to be my sister’s passport). Also, sharing the same name with a living relative (my older sister nonetheless, and we’re just 16 months apart) is not a fun thing to do. I grew up not feeling like I have my own identity, I felt like there was a part of me that I had to share with my sister and I resented that.
After I turn 25, I made peace with my full name. I began shedding my first name, except for official documents, I never use my first name anymore. I began to introduce myself using my middle name, which happens to mean just (it’s also taken from an Arabic word). I felt powerful using that name, which helps me boost my confidence every time I met new people. Most important thing with shedding off my first name is that it helps in stopping people to form a sort of stereotype and/or stigma about myself; people tend to think that a girl with the name Annisaa has to be feminine and/or polite and/or gracious. Put it simply, Annisaa is everything that I am not, and I’ve reached a point where I just grew so tired about explaining that I am not my name, I am my own self. Now that more and more people knew me from being the just, everything felt right and I feel like I can found my identity within the name itself.