Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Month: August, 2014

Hijabis are Women Too

So for the past month, I have challenged myself to a no-makeup rule. I do not apply ANYTHING on my face in my day-to-day tasks such as work, errands, gym, etc. I will wear it for special outings and occasions only. So far, I have loved the feeling of nothing on my face but skin, sun, and air. It’s given me more confidence in myself, and when people look at me, they are seeing the real me.

I am always pleasantly surprised when people compliment my looks. It takes me a few seconds to realize they are complimenting the real me, and not the made-up version. I was never big on heavy makeup application before, but even so, it is nice to see people appreciate my true beauty. Some people have said it makes me looks years younger. And while I always have been told I look young for my age, the no-makeup takes it a step further.

I have also been complimented and approached by members of the opposite sex as well, which is truly (to me) the test of this whole challenge. Women, for centuries, have done crazy things in order to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. From makeup, hair extensions, plastic surgery, and body-controlling items such as corsets, women have made themselves uncomfortable and stressed out in order to make themselves look a certain way. Why? Because that’s what we are taught from the time we are little (think Disney princesses) to the time we are adults (think magazine covers, actresses, models, etc.).

So you can imagine my surprise when in this last week, I was approached by two guys who complimented me on my beauty and asked me out. One was at the gym, so I was even sweaty and out of breath when that happened haha. To me, I was a bit taken aback when they approached me, because- duh!- I wasn’t wearing makeup or even a cute outfit. But clearly, something caught their attention. And while they both said I was beautiful, I took it to mean a little more than just the outer beauty. Now, I have seen plenty of shows where guys overlook the outer shell of a woman because her confidence outshines her looks. So I know it is possible that these guys saw something that I don’t usually see in myself. Nonetheless, it was a breath of fresh air.

I had to share my observations with someone, so I told one of my guy friends about it. I was excited to talk about my revelations of the no-makeup challenge. However, when I told him about it, his first reaction was that of shock. How dare a non-Muslim guy approach a Muslim woman, and one who is covered at that?! I was confused. Why was that shocking?

His response was that non-Muslim men should know to respect a Muslim covered woman. Approaching her is dishonorable, so how could he just ask her out? It’s outrageous! I had to almost laugh at his reaction. What was so bad about a guy approaching what he seemingly thinks is just another girl? Even if she is covered? So I had to defend the guys and explain why I, as a covered Muslim woman, was not offended.

We all know most Americans get their news from the media. And the perceptions they have about Muslims, especially the women, is skewed. However, all they see is the surface. So they really don’t know what is allowed and not allowed. And when they see a hijabi, what they really see is a woman, just covered up. And actually, because they don’t know much, after they initiate the first conversation, they tread lightly. They are hesitant to touch you, say inappropriate things, or ask questions. It’s sweet, really.

I think it’s great to have these encounters. Because while we won’t actually date them, these guys eventually muster up the courage to ask you questions about why you wear the hijab, what it means, and other things. As a hijabi, I would rather this happen than brush him off initially and have him revert to the media for the answers to his questions. And as a female, it is nice to be noticed for that- being female- just like any other woman. Because underneath the hijab, we are actually just women as well. Just like any other female in society, we like to be flattered. And there is no shame in that.

Next time you want to claim that non-Muslim men should be more respectful to Muslim women and not approach them, ask yourself this question: is it really a question of honor? Because many Muslim and Arab men have no problem approaching a hijabi and asking for a relationship. And what makes that ok, but not the same coming from a non-Muslim? Oh, and keep this in mind as well: not all Muslim and Arab men’s intentions are honorable either. So be sure to factor that in before you answer the question.



Emotional Rollercoaster

Wow, I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post! I was on a roll there for a while, but life intervened. It’s been absolutely crazy adjusting to my new job, new city, and new life. But thank God for it all. I am loving my new job, and just finished a fundraising campaign that lasted 30 days, included 35 events, and raised over $2.2 million for Syrian refugees. I seriously love my job! It makes me feel good knowing that I have helped so many people in need.

That has always been my life’s goal: to give back to others in any way I can. When I was younger, our mosque used to participate in different acts of kindness around the community. When I got older, I helped organize events in my community to raise money for those less fortunate. And now, I am paid to do what I love to do most. God is good.

Since it’s been a while, a lot has happened in my life. Things have changed drastically. And although I want to divulge these details right now, I think I might have to wait a few more weeks. I know, I know….I’m teasing you. But really, it’s been a very emotional time for my family and I. What I will talk about though is what I have learned from this experience so far.

Life throws you curve balls, and me being the nonathletic person that I am, I had no idea how to hit them so that they sailed far far away from me. So I always took the beating. The most important thing to know about emotional and mental pain, is how you deal with it. And all my life, I have been very bad at expressing my emotions immediately. I suppress them until one day I finally explode. I’m not sure why; I don’t remember anyone telling me it was shameful to express my emotions. But I’ve always felt that women are viewed weaker when they show emotion, and I always wanted to be this strong, independent woman. Men say women use emotions as a weapon to get what they want or to gain sympathy, and I never wanted that to be my reputation. I got things on my own merit.

So, three years ago (when my last engagement exploded in my face), I cracked. Something inside me broke. And it would be very cliche of me to say it was my heart that broke, but it’s true. Not in the way you think though. It didn’t break because I lost a love; a small crack appeared on the surface that, over time, slowly started to spread. Now, every time something sad happened, these things would appear in the corners of my eyes. Wet drops that would sting and burn until I willfully released them so they slid down my face. It wasn’t even anything I could control. Now, any little thing would hurt me, and I’d panic and feel anxious. So, naturally, I went to a therapist and got meds to help suppress those feelings. I just didn’t have time in my life to deal with all these emotions.

Over time, I retrained myself to hold back my emotions (and wean myself off the meds). It took a while. Actually, until this past spring, it was hard for me to not show how I feel. It started showing itself on my face, unwarranted. But then, almost overnight it seemed, I started to feel more in control of myself. So I felt like my old self again. Yay me, right?

Well, then something happened at the beginning of the summer. And I was faced with a huge emotional problem. So naturally what did I do? I shut down. I showed no emotion. I ignored everyone and everything around me and decided to just focus on myself and my new job. Was that selfish? Maybe. But I also knew that if I allowed just an ounce of feeling back into my heart, that crack that had finally been sealed would rip open with such power that I would fall apart. I could not afford that.

So now, two months later, I sit here and wonder if I made the right choice. Because the situation is set to get so much worse, and so will I continue to be cold and unyielding, or will I one day break down and melt into a puddle of emotion? It’s not to say that I don’t have trusted friends to talk to about this situation, because I do. And I thank God for them every day (Love you B!). But I have yet to share my emotions with my family. They are the ones affected the most, so to them I must seem like a cold-hearted bitch. Yet I always wonder, would they have even been supportive if I was in my emotional state?

Looking back over the last three years, as I rebuilt myself after my heartbreak, they were all there for me. Yet not in the way I expected. So it’s safe to say that I learned to never really rely on anyone to help me. The only one I’ve been truly able to rely on, is myself. But that is a whole other story, meant for a different blog post.

So, for now, I will leave you with these thoughts. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but it seems that the only one who can ever truly help you in a time of need, is yourself. I guess I will see how bad this situation really gets before deciding how much I want to share with my family. I must say though that I feel so relieved that I’m in a different city and don’t have to face it daily. Might seem a bit cowardly to say, but I can’t deny the truth. For that, I am grateful.