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Coffee Beans Close Up
Coffee Beans Close Up
Keriss101 / Spoon
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Bean farmers are humble people. They spend their days bronzing their skin beneath the Tuscan sun’s scorching glare, pouring love and fresh water into the earth so that someone else’s dinner plate gets filled. If names revealed our destiny, I would be much tanner than I am right now.

My name, Fabiana, literally means “bean grower.” I discovered this hilariously unfortunate truth during a presentation in my seventh-grade English class. I waited in agony as my classmates proudly announced that their names meant “pearl of the sea” or “son of a king” or any other respectable denotation. Telling a group of 13-year-olds that your name means “bean farmer” is one of those mortifying experiences that gets written off as a character-building moment.

My name is of Italian origin, but I am not Italian. My parents immigrated to the United States from Venezuela in the 1990s. If I had been born in Venezuela, my name would’ve been Maria Fernanda, the name my mom had doodled in her notebook margins since she was a teenager. The American pronunciation of Maria sounded flat, boring and completely irreverent to the Latin culture it represented. My parents wanted to name me something that sounded the same in English as it did in Spanish, bridging the gap between their homeland and their new home. They chose Fabiana simply because they liked the way it sounded; they clearly didn’t consult a baby name book.

I absolutely love my name’s uniqueness and femininity. When I say it aloud, I feel the way the regal A’s tumble off my tongue like rose petals. It sounds like a song made sweeter by the cheers of strangers, teachers, peers and friends at its individuality.

My name’s most important function is that it immediately lets people know I’m not Caucasian. My brunette waves and fair skin are more likely to invite people to unpromptedly wish me a happy Hannukah (it’s happened twice) than to beg for an invitation to my quinceañera. I love that within the first minute of meeting someone, one word unlocks a side of my identity that may not translate on the surface.

But is it really one word? My parents’ goal of choosing a bilingual name had sound logic behind it, but my name actually has two sounds. The Spanish Fabiana is three syllables: Fa-bia-na. The English Fabiana is four syllables: Fa-bi-a-na. Depending on whom I am speaking with, I introduce myself as one of two versions of myself. Fabiana is adventurous, spontaneous, family-oriented and fun. She is my childhood self, the version that didn’t learn English until preschool. Fabiana is composed, witty and fiercely devoted to those she loves. She is the version I present to the world, the one who chose the English pronunciation of her name.

Before starting college, I had a mini, Starbucks-induced identity crisis. My mom laughed at the Americanized way I pronounced my name to the barista. “Why are you saying Fabiana?” she mocked in an exaggerated voice. “It’s Fabiana.” Given that she named me, she would know how to pronounce it correctly. I seriously debated (like, staring-at-my-ceiling-at-two-a.m. kind of debated) which way to introduce myself to people in college. At least that way, if they repeated back the Americanized version, I wouldn’t be doing my culture a disservice.

I realized that there is no “correct” pronunciation of my name. Fabiana and Fabiana are completely dependent on the context I am in, but I am the same in all contexts. No one version is more valid, more Latina, more American, more me than any other.

Through one name, I hold space for multiple identities: Venezuelan, ancient Roman, first generation, bean farmer. I don’t know who Maria Fernanda would’ve been, but as Shakespeare so brilliantly philosophized in Romeo and Juliet, a bean by any other name would taste as sweet.

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Fabiana Beuses is a senior at Florida State University double majoring in Media/Communication Studies and English (Editing, Writing, and Media). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at FSU. She previously served as Her Campus' Summer 2023 Entertainment & Culture Intern and is currently a National Culture Writer, where she profiles celebrities and professionally fangirls over pop culture phenomena. When she's not polishing her latest article, you can find her browsing bookstore aisles, taste testing vanilla lattes around town, or rewatching the Harry Potter series for the millionth time.