I’m 20, looking at my old photos, trying to remember who I was.

I wasn’t forced to cover my hair. My father is a very tolerant and helpful person. We are from Çanakkale and the understanding of Islam in our family was very different from the one in Anatolia. I didn’t grow up in a family where neither my time of going out, or the places I went, or the boys I talked to, or the tv series I watched was controlled. I tell about the boys I like to my father. I also tell my younger brother. If I had an older brother, I would’ve told him, too. I was never made to feel like I should clean up my brother’s mess. I was never told that “You’re a woman. Are you considering yourself as an equal to men?” I knew that my family is Muslim and I thought that their humanity is caused by Islam. We were calling ourselves conservatives and I thought that “Conservatism is something nice.” In fact, the tolerance of my family was not rooted from Islam. In fact, the ones who say “Women cannot leave the town by themselves” was closer to Islam. I figured that out when I was 20. Islam is not the religion of tolerance.

I was 17 years old when I covered my hair in the middle of a school year during high school. I told that I was going to cover my hair to only 3 people in the class and I didn’t care about the comments people were going to make. Actually, while considering to open my hair now, I’m still in the same mindset.

I emulated my uncle and considered him as a role model. I bought the comic books he used to buy; I learned computer programming just like him; I was happy to draw portraits like he did but my uncle, as the only one who graduated from a university, he is an atheist. After I covered my hair, my uncle removed the picture of me in his study. That picture was standing there since I was 3 and he hadn’t removed it even when his daughter was born. My uncle got very sad when I decided to “be covered” instead of a good, patriot citizen.

The way I was wearing the hijab was extreme too; I wasn’t wearing anything shiny and I used to wear only black, large clothes. I was thinking that if you live your life according to Islam, you could find the happiness. Now, I’m living in a dorm where all the girls wear headscarf near the sea (it is obligatory). The girls are very easygoing and good people but they say that they’re happy to have escaped their families. Their families have made them join this system and apparently, they fell freer here than their homes. I can’t feel myself free in this home. I know that if I uncover my hair, I would be kicked out and have troubles finding a new place but I became unable to do my home works thinking about this for days.

I had destroyed the person I once was and now I’m 20, looking at my old photos, trying to remember who I was. I listen to the songs I was once listening, to summon my old feelings but this is hard because I had destroyed myself. I am thinking about uncovering my hair; it’s not because the headscarf is a trouble or hard to cope. The thing I liked was even though it’s difficult, it represented a satisfying life style, anyways. Like military and being a soldier are more satisfying than being an insurance officer. The main problem is not that I cannot flip my hair or feel like a criminal when I was at the park with the person I love. The problem is that the verses (of Qur’an) are not as satisfying anymore. I know you should respect the family and that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage or that the fasting is beneficial and that wearing revealing clothes is more harmful than beneficial and it gets me into trouble without being pressured by anyone. My problem is that the core of these ideas are the voices when a person is in reclusion and they have some claims which can be interpreted radically. I don’t believe that they’ve come from a higher being anymore.

I can’t see myself as a believer because I’m not sure. I hesitate. I really think that every person has the need to believe. We need to have an observer other than us in the universe. The discussion of “can you talk about morality for a person who is alone in the world?” is related with if there is an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-judging creator or not. The universe wants to be observed by us we also want to be observed by the universe, too. We want to think that the universe has a consciousness and it “knows” us. If there isn’t a creator, we think that we would feel like left alone and that there’s no need to be moral. We’re afraid of not believing because we see the need of believing God as the wish to restrain ourselves. Now, I am scared.

I told that I’m going to open my hair to my family, my brother, my friends. They said that they are going to support me.

When I read the articles here, I appreciated my family better. I’m scared but not of the society; I’m not scared of anyone’s reaction. I’m scared because I have to redefine the world and myself. I’m scared because this little bubble I had built for myself has bursted.

(Image: Alexandra Dvornikova)


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