I got awful reactions when I was a hijabi, and when I took it off; but I never stopped being myself.

I haven’t opened this subject to anyone before; I lived whatever I wanted, without consulting anyone, but now I intend to convey something to the people here.

My father’s family was very oppressive and all the girls in his family are wearing a headscarf. I was listening how they forcibly make my cousins wear a headscarf, and that seemed ridiculous to me. Opposite of them, my father didn’t put any pressure on me. He was already working very hard and I was growing up in a neglectful family. Therefore, it was not possible for them to interfere with my life. In the county where I live, when you dressed inappropriate for them, everyone would look at you and talk. Therefore, I remember that I received a few warnings from my father about my dressing style. However, I never compromised myself and dressed as a girl who doesn’t wear a headscarf. I was brave enough to stand up to anything. I didn’t allow people to have a say in my life, but every day when I go to school or in general when I go out, the words and harassment I experience, people seeing me as ‘‘different’’ started to affect my mental a lot. I was constantly being followed by other men. When I reached this age, I started to think that this is not love, but harassment, and I lost my trust for men because they were affecting me negatively. I had no religious beliefs, and I had no information about it from my family anyway. In fact, when I felt the urge to pray, I went to cemeteries and asked the dead for help. Haram, halal; I was unaware of all of that. When I was 16, I was slowly losing that courage. I had already let down my school skirt but those who followed me didn’t go away. It was also a religious quest. Is there God, or not? Why do we pray, why do we fast? I couldn’t sleep because of thinking about these.

I think the reason I lost my courage and fell into religious thoughts was my boyfriend. I spent a year with his constant humiliation and pressure by saying “Wear a headscarf, wear a headscarf…”. It was the first time I made a few hijabi friends back then. Their expression of veiling and their sincerity impressed me very much. I was the only girl who doesn’t wear a headscarf on my father’s family. I researched, watched videos, and decided to become a hijabi. When I shared this with my mother, she insistently opposed, and said “You are too young, don’t do it.” However, I’ve made my decision. If it was eventually going to do what I believed and found the solution to keep men from approaching me, I should do it immediately. One morning on my way to school, I was going to wear a headscarf and say “This is me.” Even though my mother told me not to do it that morning, but I did it. When I went to school, everyone, including my teachers, made fun of me. You know when you wear a headscarf, you feel like everyone is looking at you, but it wasn’t like that; seriously everyone was looking at me. Among the students who said, “If she wore a headscarf, we also have to do it”, “She wore a colorful one, she tried to attract attention”, “Did your hair burn, did you go bald?” I got many reactions from different people, and from teachers who said,” Is this lesson called religious culture?” We ended our 3 years friendship with my closest friend because of my hijab. This process was exceedingly difficult for me also, I didn’t have any appropriate clothes. A long skirt, a single dress; and nothing more.  After 3-4 months, I couldn’t stand it, but I didn’t want to do what anyone said. After a year, I started to question religion again and to doubt the existence of God. I was thinking so much that I felt like my brain burst. Finally, I decided I want to take my headscarf off, but I didn’t want to do it in the city where I live. This year I started the university and I opened up about my decision to my family during the semester break. “Your own life, do what you want”, my mother finally said. I never talked to my father, he only saw me without a headscarf and didn’t say anything. The people in the district where I live are still texting me about it and harassing me. I got no reaction at the university. I can’t be happy and free in where I live, but I really found myself at university. My confidence is back. I got awful reactions when I was a hijabi, and when I took it off; but I never stopped being myself.

Your emotions matter more than anything. This life is your life, you live it. Religion, emotion, ideology; these are all yours, don’t let anyone else get in them. Be bold to be yourself. Your boyfriend, family or your friends; no one is the real owner of your happiness. Never go on relationship with a man who will not constantly support your feelings and thoughts. Some of yours’ families can be very harsh; wait and be brave in making your own life, and don’t forget; true friends are people who give you infinite freedom to be yourself. True love means that; let a person be themselves. Don’t entrust your soul to anyone. I hope, you can always pursue your happiness and freedom.

Translator: EsilS.

(Image: Alessandro Gottardo)

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