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Reclaiming My Identity: Why I Changed My Name

March 8, 2019

Being a first-generation Australian-born Egyptian is confusing. I grew up on Vegemite (Egypt’s closest equivalent is Mesh) sandwiches and Molokheya. I listened to Ehab Tawfik and Savage Garden. ‘Sheb-sheb’ was the standard word for ‘flip-flops’, which were used to swat both flies and my backside. I spent many of my formative years near Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Surfing was part of the wider culture, while eating was part of my family’s. While I loved the sea in all its splendor (I’m a Pisces), I could never stand up on a surfboard. Luckily, I did not have to withstand this identity dissonance for long. After moving to a school in Western Sydney, my friends became more diverse and our activities ventured beyond watersports. Something, however, was still missing. I never felt I truly fit in. I was still uncomfortable asserting my Egyptian identity to my non-Egyptian friends. I felt I still needed to show that I related to them, referencing movies they knew, rather than teaching them about my Egyptian-influenced taste in the arts. This, unfortunately, continued well into my adult years. Not realizing how important having a solid identity was, I…

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