It’s been one month exactly since I decided to start wearing a hijab. How has the experience been so far? Not bad actually.
In some ways, I feel relieved and unburdened. Because I feel like I’m no longer pretending; the secret’s out—I’m Muslim. No hiding it anymore. I can be who I am.
I don’t think I’ve really had any negative reactions from others. There was one lady in Target who stared at me for a while—not sure if that was good or bad. But otherwise, I haven’t really noticed a big difference. If people are thinking anything negative of me, they’re at least not saying it out loud (I guess people are much more open to criticizing me when we’re not face to face, such as in response to my blog posts . . .)
I think this is definitely something where it’s a bigger deal to me than everyone else. Most people don’t know that I’ve made a change, so they may not react in any certain way. They are probably used to occasionally seeing covered Muslim women, so no big deal for them I guess. The most awkward interactions for me so far have been with people I have put in the category of: “I know you but don’t know you that well.” These are people who know my face and recognize me when they see me, but don’t know me well enough for me to ‘announce’ my covering to them or explain why—i.e. the staff in my apartment office, the postal worker, the cashier at Target (yeah, I go to Target a lot . . .), my doctor, etc. The other day the maintenance man stopped by our apartment to change some light bulbs. I think I really caught him off guard—he hesitated for a second and looked kind of puzzled.
So far, the biggest effect that wearing hijab has had on my life has actually been on my own behavior—and in a good way. I now feel life like I’m an ambassador for Islam, so to speak. I feel more pressure to be a better person—to be a good example of what a Muslim should be. For example, being kind to others, smiling more, holding the door for someone who needs it, not cutting off people in traffic (lots of ways to be a better driver and avoid road rage!) , and just in general doing ‘good deeds’ and abstaining from ‘bad behavior.’ I don’t want to give anyone a reason to judge Islam. Rather, I want to be a reason for them to rethink Islam.
I believe that the biggest difficulties in wearing hijab are still ahead for me. I have yet to be in the presence of my non-Muslim friends and family (none of them live locally). It will be interesting to see how that works out in the future. The first time I fly a plane will also be interesting; I am curious to see if I’m treated any differently at the airport, especially at security. I’ve heard from a fellow Muslim convert that the airport experience definitely changed for her when she began covering. The last time I flew, I was upset that they made me take off my cardigan sweater, which I was uncomfortable doing since I had a short sleeve shirt on underneath. (What was the big deal anyway? It’s not like it was a big coat or anything. It’s not enough you make us go through the body scanner, but we have to strip down too?)
Anyway, so you’ll have to stay tuned to see how that is all experienced in the future. Until then, I’ll be working on being the best representation of Islam that I can be.