At the time when my friends were busy talking about their new jobs at A, B, C companies or planning to take a master’s degree, I was still struggling with self-identity, to find who I am and why. At 22 when some of my girlfriends were starting to make a commitment to wear hijab, I chose to take it off. This was a big decision I made last year.
Six months after graduation, I decided to take off the hijab I had been wearing for roughly four years during college. This was not an abrupt decision I made overnight. I had been contemplating this since I was doing my mini-thesis. To be blatantly honest, it was the questions of “how has the hijab helped me become a better person?” Does it contribute to me being a kind, more tolerant person to others? Why do I feel like I’m hiding behind the cover?” These are the questions that haunted me for days and even weeks.
During those miserable times of contemplation, I found it hard to believe that the hijab had contributed to my endeavor to be a more pleasant, kinder human being. It sure is an attribute to show that I’m a Muslim woman. But is it enough? The ugly truth is that I didn’t know why I even wore hijab in the first place. A part of me refused to simply accept that it was because the Quran said so. There must be something more substantive than that. And I haven’t found the answer yet.
For me personally, I applaud moral values than religious attributes when it comes to understanding people around me. I see the language they use when talking about themselves and others. I observe their attitude and the way they treat animals and people. These apply to me as well, as I go through a period of quiet introspection night and day.
I understand that my religion, Islam, always prefers to choose modesty over anything this life has to offer, and covering my head and body is one of the ways to reach this quality. However, I have started to see a phenomenon where hijab only becomes a clothing trend among Muslim girls in my country. As I scroll my Instagram feed, the sceptic in me says that some of the girls wear hijab to follow the mass without a deep reasoning behind their decisions.
Why do I think so? Because the young, 18-year-old me used to be one of these girls. She decided to wear hijab because her friends wore one too when they entered university.
But guess what? Life happened. I grew up. I started to reevaluate every decision I made these past years and how it shaped me into the person I am today. I don’t want to be a mere somebody who follows a trend because the majority does the same. I want to find meanings and significances of everything I do in this life. It is not like I’m against the hijab thing and that I am not going to wear it ever again. I just need to go through a reasoning process before making such a big, lifelong commitment.
For now, I choose to take it off, as I get ready to learn and grow and, above all, be my most authentic self.
Monica Prilly is an English graduate working as a content editor in Bandung. Her current interests include reading a wide range of books and playing with her pet bunny. She is a firm believer that progress is better than perfection.