Commentary | Googling myself: how Sana Saeed stole my life

Hyde Park

Aside from breaking every fiber of idealism and hope within my 5’2’’ body, McGill has constantly forced me to ask, “Where the shit are you going with your life, Sana?” Like many other fellow students deprived of self-esteem, I initially found solace in egoistic endeavors, such as running for AUS and Googling myself – which isn’t as glorious as it sounds. It kind of sucks when you share a name with a former Bollywood child actor, and it’s even worse when the only results that relate to you are from mcgilldaily.com.

It was during my first year that I first ventured toward using search engines for self-discovery. With somewhat of a rare name, I decided to Facebook myself. I had just joined The Book and was naturally curious to find out how many Sana Saeeds existed in the world as determined by Mark Zuckerberg et al. While the results were minimal, my heart ate itself a little. It’s always a tad annoying to discover that your name is shared by a few other humans. Opposite sex included.

I found comfort in knowing that the other Sana Saeeds were nowhere as interesting as me – most had a question mark beside their name and were from Pakistan. My attention, however, was caught by one particular Sana. She was a striking young woman with jet black hair and a dazzling smile. Her location was listed as Washington D.C., and she was doing her undergrad at Georgetown.

Impressed, I felt shittier about myself and went back to stalking the Australian model from philosophy. Someone else seemed to have my name and was going to one of the schools I had wanted to go to before I settled on McGill. I didn’t have time for this. While life moved on and I found other ways to satisfy my inverted ego, my mind constantly wandered back to that Georgetown Sana. It would be another year before I found her again.

I did not search for her in particular, but rather was interested in seeing how many more Sana Saeeds had come into existence since Facebook had exploded. The second search showed that the other Sana was now a grad student at George Mason. Reaching for my ulcer medicine, I vowed that I would never search my name again on Facebook – she was the smart Sana and I was the broken one. Two dichotomous beings living on the same coast, with the same name, never bound to meet. Oh, how woe became me.

I had completely forgotten about that Sana until a couple of nights ago, when I decided to Google myself again – out of sheer boredom and a bad mark in Introductory Arabic. Instead of that Bollywood chick, this time one of the first results was my phone number. Sincerely creeped out, I clicked the link which took me to ZoomInfo.com. Lo and behold, there was the glorious face of Sana Saeed. Taken aback, I searched for where my number was located.

Instead, I found out even more about my dear name-sharer. She did her Master’s thesis on “the participation of Muslim women in Peace Processes and how education can reduce patriarchal discrimination that prevents women from advancing in peace processes and society in the Middle East,” currently works as the outreach coordinator for the American Islamic Congress, started the Middle East Working Group, and is the director of the University Dispute Resolution Project.

There is someone else out there living my life. So what do I do now? I blame Western liberal individualism for making me feel like shit.

The Sana Saeed who wrote this piece is a U3 Honours Political Science and Middle East Studies student. She asks that all the other real Sana Saeeds please stand up, please stand up.


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