From Pain to Acceptance

Photo By Bergen Kane | Maret '22

By Tasmia Rahman | Bullis

Throughout my life, peers and strangers alike viewed my habits as simply a series of oddities. I was confronted with confusion when wearing "conservative" clothing during the summer or was forced to explain to them why I couldn't attend their sleepover. Question after question they would ask. “Why are you wearing pants in 90-degree weather?”, “Why can’t you just sleepover; I only live two houses down?”, “Why can’t you come to the beach with my family?” As these questions kept bombarding me, I became bitter because of how different my family values were from theirs and how hopeless and naive I was to believe that I could be accepted because of my differences. Pain.

And, when women of my shared faith would wear burkas, my friends would compare them to Ninja Turtles because they did not realize the impact of their words, since I do not wear a hijab or cover every aspect of my skin; when in reality, I, their best friend, was walking in the women’s same shoes. At first, feeling misunderstood was an understatement. I truly felt that I did not belong in my own community where I was raised. I felt my home was not a place where my own friends were insulting my religion, my culture, and essentially me, and making me feel as if I were some foreign being when in reality I was just as American as they were. Frustration.

When I explained to my friends how it was not okay to compare religious clothing to a cartoon character, only then did it allow for more candid dialogue and room for intellectual growth. I learned that through open-minded discussions it not only lets others truly understand who I am, but my openness and acceptance towards their inquiries also granted all of us the chance to gain exposure to new perspectives. Acceptance.