I have received a hug from 5 different people I’ve never met before in just 2 days. It’s amazing what a tiny little gesture can do.
I’m not one to be overtly friendly with strangers. There’s always the fear that people might be suspicious of me. When you’re a visibly Muslim woman living in a post-9/11 world, you learn to be especially cautious about everything you say or do in public. I can’t blame 9/11 entirely though. I’ve always been shy. But 9/11 sure kept me in my place.
I think I’ve gotten to the point in my life however where I just don’t care (as much) anymore about what people might say.
It dawned on me yesterday that that might be exactly the reason why I’ve struggled with self-confidence my entire life. I’ve never given myself the time or space to truly own my opinions or viewpoints, because I was always thinking about other people’s opinions and viewpoints. But why are theirs more valid than mine? By silencing myself, I was implicitly acknowledging that people who don’t give a crap about me are more important than I am. I am all for respecting people, but I need to respect myself as well.
Like I told Mr. Rafia today, while recounting the story of just moments before when the manager of a boutique I had visited prayed for me and gave me a much-needed hug, I am done with being apologetic.
I know it’s easier said than done, but I am going to start.
Sometimes, a hug from a perfect stranger is just what you needed.