The one that will get away

As we sit in blissful silence I feel safe and content. You are the one I don’t need to try with. I want to rest my head on your shoulder and have you rest your head on mine. I want you to stroke my back as I close my eyes and forget about the day. I can forget about work and non-work. It will be just me and you laughing about aliens and Jon Snow.

You told me you’re afraid you’re unable to ever form bonds. You feel anxious around people – even your best friend. You worry about going out and would much rather be alone. Silence worries you. “But a few years ago you said you can be silent around me, has that changed?” “No.”

“Wow. That’s pretty cool. I feel safe around you too,” I say. “I feel the connection too. It feels like electricity on my knees and a coolness in my mind,”  I do not say.

And months have gone by. I introduce you to my friend. And you decide to give it a go. “She’s perfect for you.” I say. “I wish you had tried with me” I do not say.

I know I do not love you. So why do I feel shards sticking into me every time you speak about her?

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Travelling 

Whilst everyone has long forgotten about the Easter weekend, returned back to work or realised they have even less time for their deadlines than they thought – I am still on holiday. In fact I am currently getting my foot massaged in Thailand.

And that’s given me some time to reflect on travelling with friends, travelling whilst visibily Muslim and travelling whilst attempting to observe the hijab.

Travelling with friends is a type of fun you just don’t get when you’re with family. Whether that be staying out late, just the jokes or the type of activities you’re able to get up to. In particular to my case – I don’t even have to worry about the holiday as I have a friend who likes organising. No need to book hotels, search for things to do or worry about routes. Being the eldest in my family, that was my role when we travelled – and boy was it stressful. Fun but stressful. I like having the mental capacity to completely enjoy myself.

All the friends I am travelling with are Muslim. But, unlike me, they all either don’t wear the hijab or are happy to take it off if they feel necessary. I on the other hand will never take off my hijab. My hijab is a part of my identify that I am not willing to compromise on that.

This does make it awkward when going to the beach or water parks. I do have a full length swimming outfit (basically a scuba divers outfit) but I feel super visible when I’m dressed like a sushi and everyone else look like salmon. This is already a massive compromise since I typically wear flowy outfits. I need to invest in one of those burkanise everyone is talking about!

It’s even worse when my friends went clubbing and essentially refused to take me if I kept my hijab on. I have been dancing before and regularly go to bars with work. It does make me uncomfortable and I would rather go somewhere where alcohol – and the atmosphere that surrounds such places – was not so prominent. But I do go along nonetheless. I’m sure clubbing would have made me feel very uncomfortable. I’m sure I would have felt like sushi. But it should have been me and not my friends who policed my faith.

Perhaps I should have started this post with dear diary…

Being an outsider 

The trouble with being part of so many groups is that you’re not really part of any group. They have their party. They have their trip. They have their jokes and their many quips. I can follow it all – smile, understand, blend in.

Yet I am seeing it all happen through a frosty window. I can feel the warmth but only as I walk past. I’m not who they target, who they meant to include.

Why are you such a beg?

So I scroll down my feed, wondering if they miss me – knowing that they don’t. Barely relevant, no longer a student, never the corporate man. Simple shadows of the various versions of the groups, never a solid whole. Peeking in but unable to join. Just an outsider – left out in the cold.

You can do whatever you want

Me: I have considered being a [doctor, astronaut, archaeologist, surgeon, cadet, novelist, seamstress, house decorator, antique collector, climate change scientist, zoologist]* but my dad would laugh at me.

Despite several attempts, I never achieved telekinesis.

Friend: But your dad’s not here anymore. You are a grown woman. You can do whatever you want.

Why does discouragement linger and entrap a person’s soul so tightly? My sisters, let go of the voices that have turned into chains holding you back. He is not here anymore. You are a grown woman. Do whatever you want.

* I was a curious child, always trying new hobbies or being engrossed in a new cause with a burning passion – certain this was my calling. Funnily enough, now that I am free and able to take on the world, I hear no callings and am rather lost.

You may discover many defeats but you must not be defeated – Maya Angelou