I realized that the world doesn’t have only an Islamic basis.

Hello everyone. I read most of your stories, and mostly I saw myself in these stories. My story is just like yours. Let’s talk about it, and I will talk about my story about taking off my headscarf, which has been a big problem that I couldn’t tell anyone. 

Like you, my family has a lot of conservative people. I have relatives with a headscarf, dedicated to their religion, and insist on making other people wear a headscarf. Six years ago, when I was 13, my sister started to wear a headscarf. Everyone congratulated her by giving her shawls, headscarves, and compliments as a gift. My family always told me that my sister did the right thing. Of course, it is easy to get into a 13-year-old girl’s head. Back then, I started to wear a headscarf without knowing why I did that. When I first wear my headscarf, we were going to my grandmother’s house. My mother came to me and said, “Don’t do that, dear, you are too young; you will change your mind.” I didn’t even listen to her. Yes, this happened with my own will. But if you are growing up in a conservative family, you feel that you have to wear that headscarf without considering what you really want.

Year after year, I started high school. As I got to know people from other religious opinions in high school, I began to research religion. I realized that the world doesn’t have only an Islamic basis. Now you will think I rejected the religion. No, I didn’t, but these were not taught to me by my family. I didn’t know; I was learning. I was reading Qur’an without knowing its meaning. After that day, I started questioning religion. Why did I have to cover my head? I began to think that my religion would be whole like before if I don’t wear a headscarf. I started to feel suppressed and to see myself as smaller than I have ever been. I didn’t want to wear this anymore, but I was wearing it because I had to. Still, I didn’t take off my headscarf. I repressed all my questions. Because when I talk about my problems with my family, they started to say things like, “What, you will be an atheist? If you keep doing that, you will take off your headscarf.” 

As time goes by, I started the 12th grade. I was getting ready for university. The idea of taking off my headscarf was in my head. But everybody got used to me like that. I was so scared of social pressure and the things that people will say about me. I was crying every night. Every day, I was wearing something I didn’t want. I just wanted to wear a t-shirt, flip my hair in the wind like people of my age. Apart from these, it wasn’t going to change the real me. 

During this time, I researched more. I got more information. One night, while crying, I told myself, “I can’t do it any longer.” No matter what, it was my life, and it would follow the path I choose. I was going to get into university and do it there. Everyone was going to tell me things like, “She got into university and took off her headscarf.” But It became a burden on my shoulder, and I was leaving home without looking in the mirror. I was looking in another direction when I see a mirror. The pressure on me made me feel like this. But I made my decision before leaving for university. No one knew that. I was scared to tell my parents to make them disappointed in me. Who knows, what are they going to tell my father? He was going to feel sorry, so I didn’t tell them. 

I got into university, and I no longer had my headscarf. At first, I was wearing a bandana. I was feeling empty. I was sure that I did the thing I want. I was confident. There was no coward me anymore. Over time, I got used to it. I realized that this is really me. I was not afraid of anything. I improved myself more. I was so scared that those around me would learn and get away from me. Still, my family hasn’t heard of it. When I come home on holiday, I was wearing a bandana, hat, etc. I lied to my dad even though he asked me this many times. I don’t know how many times I cried for deceiving them.

Even now, I can not hold my tears back. None of my relatives know; who knows what they would say if they knew. I don’t care anymore, but I care about people’s thoughts more than my own. I want to tell my old friends, but I’m scared. I want to travel freely and share the photos that I flip my hair without getting scared. So, I am not wearing a headscarf, but I am on tenterhooks all the time. I still have not thoroughly explained the situation to my family. They know but, they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t ask. I’m afraid they will ask, but how long will this last like this? I will tell you everything. I will also tell my friends. This is my life, and I will choose my path, whether they accept it or not. During this time, my sister learned and said nothing. My biggest supporters are my sister and a close friend. My sister said, “Be as you want. I’m with you.” What will my family and relatives say, how will they exclude me? I don’t know, but I will say it anyway. If you are reading this, don’t be afraid. Life is yours; live your life as you wish. Whether you wear a headscarf or not, you are the only one who’s going to decide that. Don’t let others decide for you. 

Translator: Ö.K.

(Image: Catherine Hyde)

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