I look at the mirror before I go outside, but that person isn’t me.

Hi, I am writing this letter as I am drowning in my thoughts.

I am 17. When I was 14, I was forced to wear a hijab right after I graduated from middle school. My dad talked to me and said if I don’t wear a hijab, he will leave the house. I had been under pressure since I was a kid. Whenever I buy a new outfit with short arms, they used to say, “You’re not going to wear it a few years later anyway.” This was exhausting me mentally. In the end, I couldn’t bear the pressure and covered myself. At first, it was like a nightmare to me. I was sent to Imam Hatip1 high school. Even though I told them I wasn’t happy, they didn’t care. I tried to like wearing a hijab with my friends’ help around me, they were also covered, but this was nothing but to trick myself. Every time I said, “I don’t want to wear it anymore,” they told me about religion and death. They said life is short, even tomorrow is not guaranteed, but they never thought that I could spend my whole life unhappy.

Three years have passed. I have changed in time. I don’t want to go out. The government is applying some restrictions because of the coronavirus. While my peers go out in the hours of leave, I don’t because I know I have to wear that thing. I have done much research about religion, its orders, and prohibitions. Then, I decided to be a deist. If God loves me, why would he want to burn me in the afterlife because of my hair? But I am not sure about the reaction of my family if I ever say it out loud. I look like I am fasting, but I am not. They keep forcing me to pray or read Qur’an. I feel so bad now. It’s like I have no difference from a prisoner whose freedom is taken away. Every minute I think, is torture to me. Maybe my youth will be just gone because I have to be asocial in my best times. The passing time will never come back. Still, I never lost my hope, and I never will. I don’t know who is reading this or what he/she is going through. Maybe a man is under pressure or judged by his beliefs, or a woman going through the same things as me. Be sure, one day, we will all make it together.

[1] Imam Hatip schools are educational institutes in Turkey where people are trained for religious professions such as imams.

(Image: Remedios Varo)

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