I thought if I started wearing the hijab, my dad would talk to me too.

Hello. I’m sorry that I don’t have the courage to tell you my name. I think this place is full of people like me who can’t live their own lives, who have to live in a way that others dictate. I never wanted to wear the hijab. My mom and aunt kept pressuring me to cover my hair before I started high school. I didn’t get along well with my dad. Not that we couldn’t get along, we just didn’t talk much. He didn’t really talk to me. One summer a cousin came to visit us, and she was wearing an abaya. My dad talked to her. I thought if I started dressing like that, he’d talk to me too. Just like that, I decided to be a hijabi.

I started wearing the hijab in 8th grade. People started to congratulate me. My friends’ moms told their daughters “Look how pretty she is with the hijab, you should wear it too.” I assumed then that I’d done the right thing. I’d started wearing the hijab even though I had no idea what it meant, I did not do any Islamic rituals at the time. Then I went to high school, where all the girls were so pretty. I wasn’t really beautiful before I started wearing the hijab, so I convinced myself that it made me prettier and I kept wearing it. In my final year of high school, I realised how I wasn’t happy anymore, not like this. When I first told my mom about it, she didn’t react harshly. She told me how I was wrong and convinced me about it too. So high school was over, and I started going to a cram school. Again, I told her I wanted to take my hijab off, again she spoke softly and didn’t let me to.

The cram school was over, and I took the university entrance exam. I thought I would go to another city for college and take my hijab off over there. I couldn’t help it, you know how it’s so hard to be forced into doing something you don’t want? The hijab started feeling like a burden. I was wondering why it was so hard on me. I became an atheist – even though I was still a hijabi. This time I was truly depressed, I just wasn’t the person I saw in the mirror. Before applying to college, again I told my mom how I wanted to take my hijab off and this time she kicked me out of the house. Told me not to come back. She left me no choice, so I started to wear the hijab again. My family chose which colleges I applied to. They didn’t let me apply to any outside of my hometown. I couldn’t leave.

Now I’m a college student in my hometown. I leave my house with the hijab but enter my college without it. I don’t know how long this procedure will last for, but I’m happy. Happy my head and ears can feel cold. What a wonderful feeling it is to feel the wind in your hair. I’ll talk to my dad about this as soon as possible.

Our motto is “You will not walk alone”, but I feel lonely.

(Image: Liu Ye)

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