In last week’s story, I left off when I had just taken my testimony of faith. Maybe some people would like to see that as a dreamy ending to a fairytale-like story, much like many people think that a marriage is all about having a big, beautiful wedding, but really that was just the beginning of what should be a lifelong journey.
The next big step I took in my journey was the hijab, or headscarf.
From the beginning, putting on the hijab was something that was present in my mind. At first there was a lot of resistance; I loved my signature style: cute dresses, tights and cardigans. And I was terrified of what my family and friends would say to see me make such a momentous and visible change. As time went on, though, I began to realise that the only way I could feel comfortable embracing Islam is to embrace ALL of Islam, and that meant the hijab, too.
So one Friday, on my way to my very first Friday prayer, I tried it out. I didn’t have the right kinds of clothes to cover me completely, so I wore loose black trousers that hit just above the ankle, and a black cardigan over a royal blue peter-pan collared tank, with a purple scarf on top. I left the front of my hair out, just so people didn’t get too stressed out if they saw me, they wouldn’t think I was some sort of “extremist” or something.
And then, after I prayed, I made the decision to keep it on for the day.
All day, as I walked around campus, got my chai latte, headed to French class, I felt like the scarf was strangling me. I was so worried about what other people would think if they saw me with it on, and then the worst happened.
I ran into an old friend that I hadn’t seen since I studied abroad. And do you know what she said about the thing on my head?
Absolutely nothing. We had a very nice catch up and I headed off to class.
As the weeks went by my outfits for Fridays got more and more sophisticated. I bought a couple of maxi skirts, that were pretty much my go-to bottoms, and then I would put whatever I could on top to cover up.
As I finally began to feel comfortable walking around all day in a headscarf with no one batting an eye, I began to consider putting it on for good.
So naturally, after I officially took my testimony of faith, I started wearing it more and more. I would put it on to go to MSA events, or when I was going to the mosque or any sort of Islamic class. I would put it on just to hang out with my Muslim friends (because from the beginning I had always had this weird, latent scarf envy of all the hijabi sisters in the MSA).
One night, in mid-December, I went to an event at the mosque with a friend of mine. That night, I also stayed at a different friend’s house, as we were going to carpool back to our home town early the next morning.
So the next day, as we were preparing, I picked the scarf I had been wearing up off the floor, and put it on my head.
No special reason, no second thoughts. Just like that I was officially a full-time hijabi.
I guess when you’re ready you just do it.
Now, that’s not to say that I was a perfect hijabi right from the get-go, or that it was a super easy transition.
Quite the opposite.
I still look back on some of the things I wore in the early days and wonder how I could’ve left the house looking like that-often my things were too tight, or not long enough, or not opaque enough, and I hadn’t figured out a wrapping style yet that wouldn’t slip off my head halfway through the day (thank you, hijab pins, for saving my life).
And there were plenty days where various factors, heat, wind, prejudice, judgement, made me want to take it off.
Plus, who has the money to totally overhaul their wardrobe to reflect a huge lifestyle change? Not me as an undergrad working two part time jobs, that is for sure.
But when I look back on my whole journey I can see very clearly all of those little steps that got me to where I am today. I have come so far; from skinny jeans under sundresses to covered feet under maxi skirts and loose blouses, I never could have imagined back then that I would be where I am today.
But, God willing, I have even more progress to make because hijab is just that: an ongoing journey.
Bonus funny story: You know how people have dreams about being naked in public? Yeah, well I have dreams about forgetting to put my scarf on when I leave the house and then remembering once I am in the middle of the shopping mall or something and trying to find somewhere to hide. To this day, I have this kind of dream, and they stress me out ridiculously!