Normal?

Going to a new high school is never easy, because everything is new. All you can think about is fitting in, and being normal like everyone else. When high school comes to mind, so do things like prom, parties, and dates. All these are normal in America in high school, and everyone wants to be normal, right?

However, being a Muslim in a community like that can be hard. Islam does not allow things like dating and drinking, and not doing the ‘normal’ things can make you stick out. For example, covering your head with a hijab is not something seen every day, and when you are going to a new high school, you can’t be sure how people there will react to you being different. Or when you don’t go on dates or dances, people ask why, and the explanation of your religion might not be what they want to hear.

Besides those worries, you think you might have to deal with stereotypes about Islam being a violent religion and 9/11. Nobody wants to be bullied or made fun of, which is exactly what I was afraid of when I started high school. 9th grade was my first year being muhajaba, or someone who wears a hijab. I had never had to deal with people singling me out as different right away, because although I had always covered myself adequately, I had never worn a hijab. I was very scared that no one would want to be my friend, that I would be the weird one in the class. I knew three friends from my old school, but Milton was a very large school, so the chances of them being in any of my classes were slim to none.

The first day of high school, I was terrified, especially as I walked into my first period, a class full of strangers. People were laughing and talking with old friends, but it felt like every laugh and whisper was about me. I took my seat, and school started with the typical get-to-know-each-other activities.

To my surprise, I was not treated differently. A few people stared, but no one said anything rude. Any questions I got were curious, friendly questions.  I made some timid friends with people who, like me, did not know anyone and were quite shy. No jokes were made, no stereotypes brought up, and I went home feeling optimistic about high school.

People had understood my religion and what I was required to do for it. They respected it, and accepted me for who I was. I was more than overjoyed to realize that high school was more accepting than others had made it out to be. Not only that, but at Milton, there were more Muslims than I had expected. I was introduced to MIST and decided to join, where I met friendly, new people who had been frightened at first, too, but were doing great. They helped me adjust and slip smoothly into the life of a high school teenager. It felt great to fit in, with people who understood me, and who made me feel normal.

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