I felt isolated.

Hello everyone. My story is neither a success nor failure story; it is in purgatory.

I am a 23-year-old college student. After graduating from the 8th grade, I made my own decision to wear a hijab. I always went to summer Quran courses when I was a child. Not because my family decided so but because my friends and I decided to go together. I learned all the prayers I know from these courses. I can’t say that my family is radically religious, but my father goes to the Friday prayers, and my mom used to pray when she was young. I didn’t see my mom praying or reading the Quran when I was young. All my three brothers were not that religious either. But I was very eager. When I first decided due to my close friend’s hype, I told my mom on a summer day, “I will be a hijabi.” My mother said, “You are too young now; you are going to regret it.” But I didn’t listen. My father got hyped and said yes. I became one. We immediately went hijab shopping with my mom. She said, “There is no going back now.” But my intention was not to go back; I was determined. I was already wearing skirts, and I was doing what the hijab required. I wasn’t even wearing short sleeves before I became a hijabi; I was wearing a cardigan over it, thinking it was sinful not to.

I went to an all-girls high school, but I was using a school bus and not wearing the hijab. I wasn’t wearing one in school too, and I lived for two years, sometimes wearing the hijab, sometimes not. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing. When I was in the 11th-grade hijab-ban in schools was lifted, and I started to wear hijab at school. In the 12th-grade, I started smoking, but I never did it in public places; I was ashamed and very disturbed by the dirty looks I was getting. A hijabi who smokes sounded very shameful even to me.

Then I went to college in Çanakkale. I started praying there, but I couldn’t do it continuously, I gave up. Then my research began.  I believed in God, but my belief in compulsory hijab was decreasing every day. My friends were chill non-hijabis; I warned them every day and annoying them by saying, “Do not drink alcohol!” all the time. Then they started to drink in front of me. I was feeling complicit in great sin. I also drank before I became a hijabi but not anymore.

Then I won another college in Eskişehir. There were college students everywhere! I was very excited to study there. Until I did… Back in Çanakkale, I was both studying and working as a barista for pocket money. I thought I would do the same, but it didn’t go as planned. No one employed me even though I had the experience.  Maybe you know Porsuk; I applied to every café there. The last place said, “We don’t work with hijabis.” I was furious; I went home to cry. How? How could they say it to me with such a mocking tone?  When I could not get a return from anyone for a long time, I realized that everyone thought this way.

School started, and there were only five hijabis in the tremendous fine arts faculty; in my class, just one. I couldn’t believe it, I have never encountered such a situation before.  Apparently, people around me also did not; they always approached me with a bias and distanced themselves from me. I felt isolated. After a year like this, I took a break from school for a year.

Everything started right there—the hijab began to become a burden for me. I was starting to not believe in it. I don’t wear modest things anymore. I wear skinny jeans and tight t-shirts. I do not wear bonnets under my hijab anymore, but previously I was getting angry at the girls who did the same. I am back in school, and I made a decision. I will not wear hijab anymore.  But how? I am wearing it for nine years now, everyone knew me with it. I fear people’s reactions when I say, “I am not a hijabi now.”  I believe my family will respect me, I told my mom, and I didn’t get a bad reaction; she left the decision to me. But I am still afraid that I will regret it. The environmental factor affects me. I can’t make a decision and take action. My anxiety prevents me, and I can’t find strength.

(Image: Hanna Barczyk)

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