After a year or two of living in New York, I was planning a trip to Virginia to visit one of my older sisters. She’s been one of the crabs that have pulled me out of the bucket, helping me to sharpen my claws so that I could climb out on my own. Still, I projected my doubts, not fully allowing myself to be accepted or believe that anyone really wanted me to be myself.
While packing, I texted her and asked her if there was anything I could do to make everyone more comfortable with my new changes, since this would be my first visit to her post-hijab. I held my breath, not sure what to expect.
“Come as you are and bring your laundry.”
I read the text once, twice. My heart quickened and my breath came out as a wooooosh. I smiled.
Not only did I not give her enough credit to take me in as myself, I once again let my own fears prevent me from understanding that would be her response in the first place.
Granted, it was not easy getting to this place, and I understand that not everyone will have this same support. This wasn’t my conversation with everyone and it took courage to approach this subject with even dear friends, let alone, my parents.
But, here was an integral support who found a balance of questioning and challenging me all while knowing when to step back and say— “at the end of the day, be you, and know that my love for you never centered around you wearing the hijab or what you believed in.”
It’s important to find and hold these people close. This journey can feel isolating and lonely. Not only was I still processing my changes, but I grappled with letting others in.
Find one. Then two. Start small, or go big. Every thing matters. The more I practiced and took those steps, the easier it became to share and I started to worry less about reactions. Even when it never felt like enough and I felt dishonest, I always knew I was doing the best I could.
Sis, this post is for you. You blazed the way, and your fire leaves a beautiful glow around you.