I Was Afraid I Was Gonna Chicken Out

“It was a decision I made on my own and that’s what made it all the more valuable to me.”

Want to learn more about why this speaker wears the hijab? Check out “Hijab Is Not Just This Cloth.”

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Transcript for I Was Afraid I Was Gonna Chicken Out

The first time I wore the hijab was on the first day of 8th grade.  And I remember I was terrified, like beyond anything.  And, I told you, it was my decision and I was like, “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do this,” but at the same time, it’s still something that’s like totally like absurd when you think about it, like I’m going into this predominantly white middle school. And it’s middle school, and I’m walking in, and I’m wearing this thing on… like I’m already apparently different, and then I’m wearing this thing on my head.  It’s totally… and I had no idea how anyone was going to take it.  I was terrified.  And I remember like my thought process before cuz I was afraid I was gonna chicken out and take it off, like that’s what I was afraid of, so I like ended up wearing this ugly turtleneck under my shirt, so I was like, “If I take it off, it will look really bad, so I’m gonna strap myself in this.”

But I do remember that outfit, and I wore… it was this bright green hijab with blue spots and everything, it was my favorite one at the time–and I had this white baby doll top, and then like skinny jeans, which wasn’t, probably wasn’t the most modest outfit in general, but at least like it was the first step, of course.

Yeah, so I wore the hijab and I walked… and I took the bus, and it was an unbearably long bus ride, and of course I was so nervous, and like every once in a while people would look at me, and, hah, it was really terrifying, but then like I remember once I got off the bus and started walking and I would kind of dodge behind some people and kinda hide and stuff, but then eventually I saw my friend, and she was just so supportive, like I hadn’t told her I was gonna do it, and this was…. like she’d been my best friend since like first grade, and she was like, “Oh my god, this is so pretty, this is so beautiful,” and like that was just it, like after that it was like, “Ok, I am good.”

Honestly 8th grade was seriously like one of the best years of my life, it really was, which is surprising, cuz hardly anyone would describe middle school as one of their best years of their life but, yeah, it was so awesome because like I was so happy with who I was and with who I was being. And that was something I’d always kinda hid behind… you know, like and I think it was just so nice to be able to have that identity out there, and I made so many friends.  And like I said, hardly any, like there was hardly any one who was really out there and being rude to me or being mean to me or being racist or anything like that, which again was kind of surprising, but maybe they just weren’t to my face.

It was a really beautiful experience honestly. Like I think there’s something, the fact that it was something I went through, like it was a decision that I made on my own and I had to struggle to get through it, and it was difficult for me, like I think that’s what makes it all the more valuable and all the more important to me.

  • Tatiana

    Wow, what a vibrant, full-of-life person she is –her smile is contagious. I would ask my students to think of the first ‘big’ decision they made for themselves. I would also ask them what factors she considered when making her decision… at the age of 12, no less!

    • aschuet1

      Thanks for your thoughts, Tatiana. And for these initial discussion questions. We will have more stories from this speaker, specifically why she wears the hijab for religious/ethical reasons and how that maps on to fashion! Stay tuned! Allison