I knew the beliefs as to why I had to wear the hijab were limiting.
There was not anything wrong in my wearing the hijab, in itself. I wouldn’t take back a second I spent wearing it.
But why I believed I wore the hijab…that had been getting murkier and murkier. I had these moments before and I braved through them. I triumphantly continued to compare my hijab to a marriage, a marriage that just grew stronger with each phase of self-doubt.
It was worth the fight, it was worth hanging on for as long as I did, it was worth taking seriously. But the time came to change. It is almost as if the events of the past few months–only one of which was getting married–somehow shook my brain and set it down so it completely reassembled itself and started to operate differently.
I feel relieved now, not because the hijab itself was a burden. It is because it no longer made sense to me to be a sort of paradox, to go to a yoga retreat or dance class while being a hijabi. Five years ago, I thought there was nothing more splendid than a hijabi girl who plays the saxophone. After trying to live that ideal, I now understand, fundamentally, that that it is not for me. It is not only the issue of explaining the paradox to others: it was having to live it, to reconcile things that (I feel) can never be reconciled, given my understanding and experience of religion.
There are things I still love about the hijab: being recognized, exchanging salaams, embodying and always depicting the importance of prayers, of fasting, of dhikr, even when I wasn’t doing those things. I loved being asked about Islam. I loved that I always depicted the things I always thought about, that I wore on my sleeve my specific interpretation of that fact that the world is truly only transitory.
A part of me will never really know if I did the right thing. But on that first day I stepped out without it I remember thinking that this is fate, and this was always meant to be, and the time had come to let it be.