When I was younger I wanted to live freely. Without any rules and being able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I never had to worry about what other people thought about or said about me behind my back, and the thought of making new friends never worried me. I could be friends with anyone and I trusted everyone around me.
Now I want to be happy all the time and not just when I’m with certain people, or doing certain things. I want to be able to surround myself with good people and not have to worry about what others say about me or how they feel about me. Surrounded by people who like me for who I am not because of my looks and my circle of friends.
I want to be able to live a life like I once did when I was young. Not caring what others have to say or how they feel. I wish to live a life where I am accepted with my loudness and my carefree spirit not worried about how others view me or see me. Where I’m not self-conscious of my actions wondering if what I am doing is okay. Not having to do certain things to “fit in”.
In the end, I wish to live as my true self, not this person I have created. That I sometimes tend to hide behind as a way to be accepted or liked.
My mom had six miscarriages before she had me and if it wasn’t for her faith and her hope, she would have given up and never had me. So choosing my name wasn’t something she was going to take lightly because I was her miracle baby. She wanted my name to have truth, meaning, and purpose.
When they found out she was pregnant with me they thought I was going to be a boy and my name was going to be Elijah Jamal after my father Jamal. My nicknames would have been EJ and Eli. But when she found out I was a girl, she was unsure as to what my name was going to be because both my parents were pretty set on having a boy.
She wanted something that meant faith or hope, as she needed both in order to have me. One day while looking for names, she was reading a book that contained meaningful names and that is where she found my name, Imani. My name comes from Arabic origins meaning faith or belief. It is a very popular name throughout the Muslim world, especially in Eastern Africa.
There are many different ways to spell it. But my parents wanted it to be different which is why it is spelled with an I and not an E. My name is usually mispronounced almost every time a new teacher takes attendance or someone reads my name and tries to pronounce it. It is usually pronounced “Amani”.
Back in elementary school, I was too shy to correct my teachers so I just let them call me Amani. Until one day, I told my mom about how much it bothered me that people weren’t saying my name correctly. She told me, “Your name is special and it defines who you are, never be shy to correct someone about your name”. Ever since then I’ve always corrected anyone who calls me Amani without shame or fear of being rude.
I love my name and I couldn’t be happier with the name that I have. It has so much meaning and it is a very important part of who I am today as a person.