Today is my one year hijab anniversary (give or take) and also World Hijab Day 2015! While one year is a short time in comparison to the 24 years I’ve been on this earth, I must admit that I have learned a lot in that small amount of time. Not only have I learned more about myself, but also a LOT about other people and their perceptions of the world and me, in hijab. I thought I’d hash out a few of the things that I have come to find out in these last 365 days. I hope this helps others as they embark on this journey of hijab as well.
1. You can’t (and shouldn’t try!) to please everyone.
Even when wearing hijab, if not because of it, people will love to judge you. The worst part is that most of the judgement will come from other muslims! One person will think you are too conservative because you wear hijab, but the next person thinks you are too liberal because you wear jeans. But you know what? Their opinion doesn’t matter! You didn’t put on hijab for people, you put it on for Allah, because you feel it’s important for your growth spiritually. As long as you feel good about how you wear your hijab, no one else’s opinion matters.
2. You are a strong and independent woman! Skin doesn’t determine your strength!
Don’t be fooled by cultural feminists, you don’t need to show some skin to show your strength and independence as a woman. While some women feel that showing cleavage and leg empowers them as women, I feel like my hijab empowers me. While this is a topic for its own post…in a nutshell, hijab doesn’t mean you can’t speak out or have an opinion.
3. Fabrics matter.
Check out my previous post on fabric choices for keeping cool despite the weather. Yes, it makes all the difference!
4. You will be treated differently
No matter what people tell you, you will be treated differently. Your friends will need to adjust to you as a hijabi (if they knew you before covering), especially if you partook in activities that are unbecoming of a muslima. For instance, now that clubbing and drinking are a no-no, some friends may not find you as interesting or fun to hang out with. You know what? That’s ok. For every person that thinks you are boring, another person finds you inspiring! I have a friend who loves to discuss my (and her) spiritual journies, including coming to hijab. Once on the city bus I saw a girl wearing a scarf loosely over her ponytail, and when she saw me she straightened the scarf to cover her head completely, and then smiled at me. I smiled back. You are making a difference, whether or not you see it.
Also, sometimes you get the stink-eye, but other times you are treated with the utmost respect. I was flabbergasted when a young man (maybe a bit younger than me) stood up on a crowded bus to give me a seat. That never happened to me before I covered. Could it be that maybe there was just one gentleman on the bus that day? Maybe, but when it happened a few more times I started to think it wasn’t coincidence.
5. People are going to assume
People are going to assume that you think a certain way or believe a certain thing because you wear hijab. They think they know why you started to wear it (ESPECIALLY if you just got married to a muslim). Don’t let that get to you! If you weren’t being stereotyped for wearing hijab, you’d be stereotyped by your race, or your style, or having tattoos, or your hair cut, or your accent… people always want to fit others in a little box, and you don’t need to worry about that. Just keep on keeping on, sister. Their assumptions don’t define you.
6. Everyone’s journey is different
Some people struggle with their hijab, but others find it easy. Just because you are having a hard time and those around you take it easily doesn’t mean that you are a lesser person or your iman (faith) isn’t strong. Similarly, if you find hijab easy while others are struggling, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing it wrong. Everyone’s journeys with hijab and iman (faith) are different, and you can’t always compare your experience with someone you know. However, there is someone out there who feels the same as you do, so don’t feel alone! Some days I find hijab easy, while other days I get so frustrated with it I don’t leave the house! We will even fluctuate in our feelings sometimes, and that’s normal.
I hope these insights help you, and I still have much to learn. If anyone out there is reading this, I would love to hear your own lessons you’ve learned in the comments!