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Confessions of a Hijabi Part 2


High school and I


With growth, there is more responsibility and expectations to 'get it together'. With expectation of coping well with responsibility, there is pressure. By the time I started high school, I was feeling more pressure. I was feeling it, all of it. Coping with this pressure got very hard. A lot of times I felt ashamed for not measuring up to the worlds standards. I didn’t really understand why. ‘’Why was everything so hard for me? Why couldn’t I keep up with the rest? Why was I so slow? Why does everything make me physically and mentally tired? What’s wrong with me? Am I stupid or just not good enough?’’ I found my answers many years later. Which was my mental and, partly, physical health.

Going through life, feeling like you have to perform all the time, with a smile on your face, had a strain on my mental health. Besides trying to achieve something, I felt the need to do it in a fashionably manner. Which meant, wearing the newest items, wearing make-up, acting like the paparazzi was following me everything and they just couldn't catch me looking ugly: the world can't see me that way. I felt that I was failing in so many aspects in my life, that my looks were the only thing that made me feel good about myself. The ‘my looks are all I have’ feeling was a big part of my life. This was also a factor of how people saw me. A lot of times people didn't like me, because they thought I was shallow. They thought I wasn’t anything more than a ‘doll’ with no character. Which I heard many times. Even a few of my good friends felt that way before knowing the real me. This caused me to be much more socially aware and try to let people know, I’m not these things. At that time, I felt the need to be socially accepted by my peers. I needed to be perfect. This was very tiring. So, I thought to myself, “I had enough” and I wasn’t going to let people talk about me that way. I went from a girl with no character and ‘shallowness’, like people thought or called me, to a spice girl, with a lot of attitude. I tried not to care, and I felt strong and empowered. I let these bullies know, “Don’t you dare mess with me, bitch”. Everyone knew now, you can talk about me, but honey, don’t think I won’t fire back. And I also made sure I had friends with my attitude of not caring. Usually that were ‘the nerds’ or out casts of my class. But I loved my friends. How different they were from me, or if cared about fashion and beauty or not, I still loved hanging out with them. I was an outcast too. Though subconsciously, this social aware behavior never really went a way, it just manifested differently.

Still, on the school front, I expected more of myself, and I was not delivering. I didn’t need the high expectations of the universe to make me feel this pressure. I was doing it to myself, because that is what I have been told and taught. These pressures still lived besides me and still hovered over me. High school can be tough on anyone. Not only is this the time to grown and learn, but your future depends on it. It’s the path to your future and you have to succeed. As a teenager, you are trying to figure yourself out, and may test the waters a little. I had no time to figure out who I was or what I wanted, I was busy trying to be normal first and foremost. The first few years of as a junior went by. I also started to realize that there were things I couldn’t do like the rest. My right hand, and right side of my body where not functioning as they should. At this point in my life I knew that I was different, but I didn’t quite realize in what way. At gym class, I would get confused about using the ‘dominant side’ of my body with a game, like football. I was feeling like my right foot was the dominant one, but it was actually much weaker, so I had to use my left side. And this didn’t go well. I couldn’t do all the things ‘right’ like my classmates could. I couldn’t climb up a wall or rope, without falling. Which made me feel more like a failure. I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed for not being able to do what others easily could. It made me nervous and anxious every time I had to do something in front of my class. And I always would try to explain myself, so that they didn't think I was a failure. And I kept on trying hard to do everything right, but still failed consistently. This trying and failing made me feel physically tired and useless all the time. ‘’But at least I’m doing okay with my grades’’, I told myself. For now, at least. My mom helped me study a lot, because every time I had a test, I would stress and cry a lot, thinking I’m not going to pass or get a good grade. I really wanted to get good grades, so then at least I was doing something right. Our school system has 4, 5 or 6 years of high school and depending on what level you did, you can go to college. The school said I could do the ‘highest’ level of high school educations, which is 6 years. My mom could see I couldn’t handle it, because of my performance anxiety. She made the decision to let me stay where I was, that was fine too. I could go to college at this level too. So, I was supposed to graduate after 5 years.

About two years before graduation, I was failing more and more classes. From this point, school started to get a lot harder. More homework, more hours of school, more of everything. It looked like I wasn’t motived enough. The truth was that I was tired all the time. Being sleep deprived is quite normal for teenagers, because you make less of the sleep hormone melatonin. But trying to focus on school made me more tired. I didn’t have the energy. Not to mention I was still living a life of fantasy in my head. Also when I tried to follow the class, the information was too much at once for me, and I couldn’t follow. Too many stimuli that i couldn't process. Because of trying to process them anyway, I'd get tired to the point were I felt i could't function anymore. At night, I would relive the whole day and classes I followed, and tried to process everything I ‘learned’ that day. But I missed the half of the information and I couldn’t always make sense of what I learned that day. How could I possibly sleep with all this information circling in my head that I didn’t even understood?! I relived everything in my head. What I said, how stupid I was, how lazy I must look and how I had to try harder the next day.I stayed up most of the night to doze of a bit for 3 hours until i had to wake up. With half of the information missing, I had to study even harder than most students, to keep up. But I had no energy for it, even though I was trying. But nobody knew how hard I was trying and how much I hated to fail. They only saw my failures, my laziness and lack of motivation.

The relationship with my family went downhill from there. My parents were very disappointed cause it looked like everything else mattered to me, more than school did, which was far from the truth. And my temper tantrums were still a part of my life, but in a different manner. At home, I was very quiet. When I did answer, I would answer very spicy. My sister would come up to my room and ask, “Why are you wearing so much make-up?”, or “Why do you look so extra?” I couldn’t answer why my looks were so important to me. I didn’t understand it myself, and I didn't see the problem, "So why aren't they leaving me alone?!", i thought and shout. To them it looked like that was what's keeping me from studying. But to me, it was just a way to express myself and feel better about myself. My parents would also ask me things or just say something to me and I would snap and explode. Nobody understood me, and I felt lonely all the time. I just couldn’t handle the disappointment from them, because I was disappointed in myself every day of my life. It caused a lot of fights between me and family, and they couldn't understand why I was behaving like this. I barely understood myself, so how could I explain it to them? These questions that I couldn't answer, the feeling of failure, the disappointment and disapproval in their voices, turned in to rage again. I was on survival mode and I was about to crack.



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