You know as I scroll through social media, I see a lot of people doing the #10year challenge; and I can’t help but reflect on my past decade.
During my last year of middle school, I was seeking an escape from those awkward years. I can remember counting down to my eighteenth birthday because I thought life would become so much easier for me, that’s a huge joke in hindsight. But I was constantly overwhelmed with emotions and felt like I had no real outlet to release them.
So my secret journaling began. I started to place all of my negative emotions on paper. I would write poems or short rants of whatever was one my mind. I would sit in my room, play music and write my heart out. I would share wild stories and talk about secret loves that I knew would never happen. I guess you can call it a diary, but it never seemed that way to me.
My journal became my truth, an unfiltered version of me, that wasn’t shy or in fear of judgment. I often look back and reread my journals and love seeing how my words and thoughts have truly matured with me. How over the years I’ve healed from some insecurities and began to have faith in myself. It’s bittersweet to read all of the pain I’ve felt over the past ten years, but it reminds me of my strength.
I know the day I started writing in a random notebook, that young teenage girl never would believe our thoughts and words would evolve into a blog. But here I am turning my random journal entries into blog posts.
As a child, I was extremely quiet and passive-aggressive. Al Humduillah, I grew up and started speaking up for myself. As I talk to my younger brother about his middle school experience, I can’t help, but sit back and reflect on my completely different experience.
I actually don’t have too many fond memories of middle school, it was an awkward adjustment period of my life. Wearing the hijab, and a modest uniform did not help the situation either. One memory that has been sticking out lately is the time I had a substitute teacher in Music.
He was an older Black American man, really laid back and the majority of the students loved him. He was leading a discussion about music that our parents play in the car. So everyone is pretty much participating and having fun, cracking jokes. I attempt to participate, but before I get a full sentence out, he cuts me off. Informing me that I’m foreign, and my people don’t listen to regular music.
I was way too shy and quiet to speak up, and say, “no, I’m black, I am just Muslim”. At that point, I remember feeling so embraced and a sense of not belonging anywhere. I wanted so desperately to blend in, and not always stick out as different. Now I realize how idiotic and toxic his statement truly was. Instead of embracing me, and taking the opportunity to potentially learn about a new culture; he just shot me down because I didn’t appear “black enough”. The saddest part is, he’s not the only person who’s made me feel that way. Even though I grew up in a black community, I still was made to feel like a minority amongst my own people.