If you happened to be named James, Jim, Jimbo or any variation of said name, you could have gone to Red Robin and gotten a free burger this past Tuesday. Hurray! Except, that’s not my name. Too bad for me, I guess I’ll get my burger on Farheen Free Burger Day…
Wait, is there such a thing as Free Burger for Farheen Day? Nope. Just like there is no Free Car Wash for Farheen Day or anything like that. Not that I am irked about it or anything. But there once was a time that I would have been. When I was a kid, I hated that I couldn’t have pencils and notepads with my name on them. But whatever. When you have a weird name, that is only to be expected. And Farheen is a weird name. At least it is here in the US.
Names have been on my mind as of late. My brother and his wife are about to welcome Baby #2 to their family, which is truly exciting and Auntie Farheen can’t wait. At Thanksgiving, we were all sitting together and talking about baby names they are considering. They want names that reflect our cultural heritage and fit in and are easy for people to say. They did well with that for my niece, Sareena. A solid Muslim name but easy for anyone to say. I admire their wish to make life easier for their offspring. Not sure I would be so kind myself though. I got some doozy baby names picked out if I ever am fortunate enough to have munchkins…
With my name and the experiences, I can understand completely why they want to make it easier for their kids. I hated my name for the longest time. And my parents insisted that we not use nicknames. So it was always Farheen. And Faheem. And Fraheem and so on and so forth. My first day of high school was a nightmare. I had grown up in Bensenville, IL and my high school was Fenton High, which was shared with the neighboring community of Wood Dale, IL. So entirely half of my high school, that first day had no idea how to tackle “Farheen”. By the end of that first day, I was so sick of correcting people on the pronunciation that when Adam, the boy from my 3rd period English class came up to me in 7th hour Choir and said, “Hey you’re Fraheem from my English class right?” I exploded upon him like an atom bomb… I will never forget the look on that poor boy’s face when I laid into him. It was bad that that after I finished there was a moment of stunned silence where we stared at each other, he in shock and me in dawning horror at what I had just done. I apologized profusely and we became friends. On a side note, over 20 years later, Adam is still one of my dearest friends.
After high school and out of my parentals influence, I began to go by Far. It was easier for people. And I didn’t mind it so much. But I never felt like it was my name. For years I answered to, introduced myself as Far. And then one day, at work, I was meeting someone for the first time. And I introduced myself as Farheen. And one of my other co-workers said, “But you can call her Far.”
I smiled and agreed but it was like a lightbulb lit itself inside my head. My name is Farheen. Its one thing if someone who knows me or cares about me calls me something like Far or whatever, but my identity is always going to be tied to my given name. I had let the nickname become me, when it wasn’t. And I know it may seems somewhat melodramatic but its how I felt at that moment. I wanted to shout “I am not Far! I am Farheen!!!”
Since then, I have always introduced myself as Farheen. It isn’t easy but I can deal with it. I have two bosses currently who can’t say my name correctly. But its okay. And I am not saying that people can’t call me Far, Farheenie, Farqueen, Heen or anything else. I myself give people nicknames all the time. If you get a nickname from me, you have made it to my list of awesome peeps. But I tend to clear it with people before I use the nicknames. And the same with endearments. The point is you need to know who I am before you can call me something else.
There are cultures in this world where only your family will know your name. Because names have power. And one of the wisest and coolest of characters in literature advises, “Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” Extra points in my book if you know of whom I speak. I don’t agree with the Great Bard when he penned Juliet’s speech, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet…” The point is names are important. And while I have had a love hate relationship with my name, I have grown into it. It is an integral part of me. And I am glad that I had such a unique name.
And on a final note, so there is no Free Farheen Burger day or whatever. I can deal with that. And thanks to Vistaprint and other such great printing places, I can get my notepads and pencils with my name on them. I wouldn’t change my name ever. This rose by any other name, would not be as sweet.