I was out for a walk during lunch today and, surprise, surprise, I ended up at the coffee shop. Actually, I was at one of my favorite coffee shops near work. They had been closed for a couple of weeks due to the holidays and so I kept my emotions in check as I got my mocha from there, not wanting to get carried away and tell them how much I missed them. I didn’t want my eyes to start to well up with the tears that are inevitably shed when it comes to coffee.
I usually get my drink to go and take it back to work but I had time today and so I figured I’d sit there and drink my mocha, taking my time to sip it as I tried to take yet another coffee picture for Instagram, which updates my Tumblr, which then updates my Twitter. I think this is the part where I apologize to you all for the coffee pics.
I was sitting there updating my Instagram when the older gentleman (maybe in his 60s? I’m always bad at ages) at the table next to mine said something to me about texting, which led to a conversation with him and his friend about social networks. I mentioned that even though Facebook isn’t my favorite social network (I think I might have to go with Tumblr on that), I still stay on there because people wouldn’t even know I exist anymore otherwise. Because of my loner ways. I would fall off of everyone’s radar if it didn’t take something like Facebook to remind the general populace that I’m still around.
He was surprised at that statement. “From the way you talk, you don’t seem like a loner,” he said. He then asked me a question I wasn’t quite expecting: He asked me if I was a loner due to my hijab. He was curious if I separated myself from people because of it. His question gave me pause. Do I purposefully distance myself from people because of what they may think of the hijab?
I realized that my loner ways have always been present and while they continued on as I started wearing hijab, it wasn’t due to wearing one so I told him “no”. I did admit though that sometimes I am a bit self conscious of it and do wonder on occasion what others may think. Just a note that this doesn’t happen a lot. Truth be told, I forget that seeing someone with a hijab is a bit out of the ordinary for most people. However, once in a while, I’ll think about how I’m perceived by others. One time, I even asked a couple of my good friends who aren’t Muslim about what they thought of it, of being out in public with someone like me, all hijabified up. The couple of friends I asked seemed rather surprised at the question mostly because they never thought anything of it, which is pretty cool.
Anyways, back to the conversation –
After I explained my “no”, he was still curious as to why I called myself a loner. He told me that two words into my response to his initial question (about texting), he knew I was a friendly person and would be open to having a conversation. He wondered though if, because of the hijab, people sometimes think that I’m not approachable. I had to agree with that. People do have their preconceived notion of hijab and for some people, maybe it comes across as a “back off” sign. It’s unfortunate though because I do enjoy having random conversations with people I’ve just met. I’m being completely serious here. As I told this guy, people have so many questions about Muslims and the hijab that I rather they just come up to me and ask, even if they are a total stranger, instead of coming to false conclusions.
I still do consider myself a loner though. A loner with a few awesome friends but one nonetheless. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim and wearing a hijab though. And, being a loner doesn’t mean I’m anti-social so please, if you see me around and have a question about anything, feel free to ask :)
Note: The conversation today reminded me of one I had with a classmate in my Arabic class a few years ago.