General · Writing

Hello. My name is Zeinab.

nameThat’s my official name on paper, the name I sign my credit card purchases with, the name I give when somebody wants to list me down for something; however, I go by a different name among my inner circles – Zen. In a way it feels like having a double identity. Formally I’m Zeinab, a quiet, reserved girl who never toes the line and stays behind her books. Informally I’m Zen, a clumsy dork who enjoys childish things and eats more chocolate than is healthy.

My parents gave me the first name that occurred to them. Maybe if they had slept on it instead of naming me within the hour of my birth, they would’ve realized I’m not much of a Zeinab. It’s not that I dislike it, but I’m just not sure if it suits me. To be honest, I don’t even know what other name I would’ve chosen for myself instead, but I would’ve definitely preferred something less common. It’s a bit discomfiting when one out of 10-20 girls bears my name… at least where I live. If you stand on a crowded street and call that name, you will be sure to turn the heads of a considerable number of girls.

What does it mean? Zeinab is an Arabic name that stands for “Daddy’s precious jewel” or “a fragrant plant”, though my parents didn’t choose it for its meaning – even though dad did spoil me a lot and mum did make sure I always smelled nice – but rather because it’s the name of an important historical character. It’s been also said that Zeinabs are associated with chubby, rosy cheeks, so I guess that part hits the mark, haha. How do you pronounce it? Zay-nab. Incidentally, my new “identity” came about because my little cousin found it difficult to pronounce it and took to calling me “Zen”. I didn’t mind it; in fact, I felt more at home with it. My friends thought it was cool, and the name stuck and expanded to include variations like Zenny and ZenZen. Some people called me ZeeZee Za Zombie (and still do)… but that’s a story for another time. 😉

31 thoughts on “Hello. My name is Zeinab.

  1. Well, my full name is Katherine, and my mom picked it because she read in the newspaper “Lucky is the girl named Katherine.” But I’ve always been called Katie. I can’t imagine having any other name now!

  2. I read somewhere that “you are who you are when you’re alone,” and somewhere else that everyone has three faces: for the general public, your friends, and when you’re alone. I believe both ring true. For me, this is not really connected with my name, but more with the language I speak. I am Dutch of origin, but also fluent in English. English has become the language of the internet, my school, and my friends at university. Speaking English, I feel much more free than when speaking Dutch. Dutch, to me, is a much more intimate language. I don’t know, I feel like this is sort of similar to your two-fold identity?

    1. I know exactly what you’re saying. My mother tongue is Arabic, but English is the language I use on the internet and around my friends, and I do feel more a ease using it!

  3. I’ve always actively hated my name. It was the most popular girl’s name the year I was born, so all the way through school, I had to be “Amanda B.” And as I matured I started to feel that “Amanda” wasn’t really an adult’s name – it always sounds like a little girl’s name. I seriously considered changing it when I came of age, but my fiance has said that he could never call me anything but Amanda. He says, since Amanda means “she who must be loved,” my changing my name to something else might break the spell =)

  4. I love Zen, I think it definitely suits your online persona. 🙂 I love that your proper name has a meaning behind it, even if it is common I just love names that stand for things. Mine doesn’t really have a proper meaning, I wish it did!

    1. I’m glad you think so. 😀 And yeah, it’s nice when names have meanings. I just looked up your name on Wikipedia (assuming it’s shortened from Rebecca), and apparently it was the name of an earth goddess. =o

  5. Hello ZeeZee Za Zombie, my name is Dianne (LOL – I love ZeeZee Za Zombie!)

    Zen is a great name and unique (where I come from) and even though you say Zeinab is common where you are I’ve never heard it before so it’s unique to me as well.

    My name means “huntress” and “goddess of the moon” (no wonder I absolutely love looking at the moon!) 😀

    1. Haha, kids at school used to tease me often with that name!

      And thanks! Maybe I should move to your place so I can stand out from the rest. 😉

      Your name has an absolutely lovely meaning. =D

  6. I love both your names. Do you know if many – or any – other Zeinabs are called Zen or are you one of the only ones? I have a common name in Europe (and South America) but when I moved to the USA I was surprised by how many people have difficulty with it/how foreign it seems to them. We often forget how foreign we are to other cultures at times, I guess. Great piece!

    1. I’ve never heard of any other Zeinab called Zen! Usually Zeinabs are given nicknames like Zizi, Zannouba… one woman used to call me Zanzouna, but no Zens. 😉 And I too have never heard of the name “Letizia”, but it’s very pretty to me!

  7. Zeinab is a great name, but Zen is how I’ve always thought of you. I don’t know how to say “chocolate” in Arabic.

    I’ve been called a lot of things over the years… even late to dinner. 😉

    1. Thanks, Tim! And the Arabic word for chocolate is pretty similar to the English one – chocolata.

      Ha. Better late than never. 😉

  8. Zay-nab – too late. I was left to my own devices for too long and you will always be known as Zee-nab to me. And I love the name Zen. I see you as zen as defined by the Urban Dictionary: “a state of coolness only attained through a totally laid-back type of attitude.” Yep, that’s you! 🙂 Nice post, Zen.

    1. Oh dear. xD If it’s any comfort, you’re not the first one to pronounce it that way. And ooh, I definitely like that definition. Thank you, Maddie! 😀

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