13th October 2016 - 4 mins read
Age : 20
Gender : Female
Message : Dear 3aibandthecity,
I wrote and deleted this about a hundred times. I don’t know where to start and how to start. But, basically, I’m 20, I’m getting married and I am so incredibly worried about my future because I don’t know what the heck I want to do with it. This is the first part. The second part: I am living an absolute lie. I don’t like the hijab that I never wanted to wear, I don’t like my abaya, and I am not as religious as my family thinks I am. The girl that they know is not at all who I truly am.
Third part: I have dreams. I want to continue with my masters studies, and I want to become an author. But, I’m afraid that none of these could ever happened due to my conservative community.
Fourth part. I’m a quiet person by nature. I don’t particularly enjoy parties or social functions because they make me tremble and they make me nervous, and I always end up crying at the end of the night. I have a fear that my future husband’s family might hate me because of this.
All of these things roll around in my head and I can never think straight because of them. I cry about it. It seems so silly, but I can’t sleep at night. I feel that I’m confused and impulsive and that I have no identity because I am living a lie, and I’m just stuck in a bubble of fear. Will marriage free me? Will I be allowed to express my true and honest self? Will I just become a homemaker and a mother and disappear? Will I ever stop being so afraid of my family? And the questions never, ever, ever end. It’s a cycle. I want freedom. I want happiness. I want peace of mind. Not this clutter and confusion.
P.S. This is an absolute mess. I don’t know how else to word it. I’m so sorry.
Dear Confused, Female, 20
Thank you so much for reaching out. And I apologise that replying took me some time.
All through the message I had only one thought going through my head. Someone is screaming for help. I really feel awful reading those lines because they contain everything I hope women wouldn’t have to endure anymore in our society. Please, do not apologise. What you go through is actually very serious.
The hijab is a very delicate matter and I made it a habit to not talk too much about religion on this platform because not everyone will agree on everything said in that regard, not only from myself but everyone who has and shares an opinion about point of views. I always believed that religion is and should be a very private matter, hence you will never get to hear my own private opinion. Your connection to religious beliefs is private and none has the right to make you disclose anything you feel or think if you are not willing to. The mistake parents often do is that they force their children to follow a thought school without actually explaining it. And when questions arise they are just bulldozed or redirected with meaningless phrases, such as: This is the right thing to do. No discussion.
A couple of years ago I had to take some very unusual measures to handle a case I was supervising at the time. I contacted different scholars from all over the world to get their opinion on how I should proceed. The nature of the case is not of importance but the essential message I got out of this experience helped me ever since.
All scholars had one opinion in common. Firstly, none can force anyone to do anything. Parents are encouraged (obliged) to teach their children what they believe is right but if the child at a later point in adult life decides to take a different route, there is nothing they can really do about it. There is no chains that can be used to bind a child to a specific mindset. Secondly, questions are not only allowed but also necessary. It is always better to admit lack of knowledge than using phrases like the one I have written before. That will allow parents and children to go on a learning journey together.
Unfortunately, cultural stances often do not approve authority to be questioned. I cannot tell you what to do with the hijab, this is not my place. But I will tell you this. Go on a knowledge journey and draw your own conclusion only that way wearing it or not wearing it will be genuine.
The other and very prominent issue you described is your marriage plans. You have not described the person you are going to marry. Just as if he was a ghost. I am not even sure if you had a chance to get to know him. From all you described, it does not seem like there is a flow communication between you two. You concerns orbit around his family and how they would perceive you. The only person who can help you deal with that is actually him. Does he know how you feel about social situations? Does he know that his wife is most likely going to be an introvert?
Marrying someone will never free you. Because the nature of commitment is to be responsible for another person and to be consulting them every step along the path you are going to walk together. But Marriage can and is very rewarding if you are with a partner who is not only understanding but also supportive. Does he know about your ambitions to become a writer? What does he think of it, if yes? If marrying him is the only option at this point because cultural reasons dictate it, you have to find a way to him and to his thoughts. Otherwise, both of you will suffer.
I guess, I have only two very concrete suggestions for you:
*Talk to your future spouse and try to plan a life together that seems promising for both of you.
*If you are an aspiring writer: WRITE. Let nothing and none pull you away from this. Masters or not, write! Every day and every minute. Maybe publish anonymously on a blog at first. If you stay consistent, even without visual success, I will guarantee you, you will have a virtual place that only belongs to you and makes you happy.