Lesson learned: most people don’t care.

I was scared. My knees trembled, my heart raced, and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to leave the house. Ever again.

Okay, I almost never want to leave the house (the house has cats and books, the dog and Beth and books, why would I want to leave?) but there’s not wanting to leave the house, and then there’s stepping outside the safety of home, allowing myself to be exposed for all the world to see, to judge, to condemn. It’s always somewhat amusing to me when I get caught up in those fears, because on a day to day basis I really don’t care about random people and what they think of me. I try to be kind, I try to be considerate, compassionate, and patient when out and about, and I can’t really do more than that. Why, then, this near crippling fear? Why the cold sweat, and the tears of panic stinging my eyes?

I’d changed how I veiled.

There are many reasons why I veil. The dominant reason comes back to: Poseidon said to. There are very few things Poseidon outright demands of me, and He is not, despite the stories we have of Him, the sort of Power to demand outright obedience in all manner of things. Most of o/Our life together is one of suggestions, of give and take, of,  “I’d like for you to do this thing,” or “have you considered adopting this practice,” or “maybe we should try this,” or even, “Yeah, let’s <i>not</i> do that again.” The veiling, though? That wasn’t a suggestion. When the command came, He was generous enough to offer reasons why it would be a benefit to my life, and many of the reasons are the reasons you’ll hear people from various veiling paths mention: it’s a tangible reminder of who owns your head, or it’s a tangible reminder that you are set apart from the mainstream culture, or it helps filter out energy. One of my favorite benefits has been that it seemed to age me in people’s eyes — I definitely was treated more seriously by strangers than I had been before I veiled in public. (I look young for my age, and while I realize that at some point this is going to be awesome, in practice it has made me conscious of ageism and it drives me batty. I’ve raised children; don’t dismiss me and my life experiences just because you think I’m twenty-something. Also, don’t dismiss twenty-somethings just because they’re twenty-somethings.) Add to that, strangers tend to be less informal with me, and I really enjoy that benefit as well.

He has left it up to me what the veiling looks like. When I’m my day job, He prefers more coverage over less, but as the years have gone by, I prefer more rather than less, as well. My veils have gone from being tied like a kerchief to cover by not exactly hide my hair to being wrapped up snood like so that only my bangs show. And, over the last year or so, I’ve been wanting to cover the bangs as well. I’ve been putting it off, because I don’t like how my face looks with all my hair covered, and yet, I wanted all my hair covered. I came across some wide headbands to try, hoping for something super non-binding, because I did not want to have to add a tube underscarf to my head — especially for summer. I sweat a lot, and I wanted something less, not more. Regular headbands, even wide ones were out because they press too much upon my migraine-trigger spots. (I really, really wanted to be able to use the velvet headband that Wrapunzel sells, for example, but their biggest size, while it fits, is just too much pressure.

I happened to find these extra wide head band type underscarves at HijabiQueens on Etsy, and I thought: why not? Shorter that tube scarves, it’s cotton (I have particular fabric needs), and I figured that they could be adjusted to ‘act like bangs’.

I love them. I bought two — brown and grey — but I’ll be buying more. We had a few mid to high 90 degree days, and I couldn’t wear them because they were too close to the head, but otherwise? I love how they don’t move off my ears too much, I love the feel of them gently hugging my head, and I love how they keep the itchy bit of my every day scarves off my skin. I wear those Israeli tichels with the metal strand running through, and I never realized that they even were itchy, until they were tucked away from my hairline.

Yesterday was my first day wearing one out. Hence the standing by the door, trying not to cry, trying to actually leave the house. I was just running errands, and Beth repeatedly assured me that I was silly, that I looked presentable, etc. I was remembering the first days leaving the house covered at all, and how terrifying that was, and how, after all these years, I still marvel that putting fabric upon your head and leaving the house can be so scary. It totally can be, it is a huge deal that people are able to do that, hooray for everyone who leaves their houses dressed as they want to dress despite what dominant society tells you you should look like! I thought I was done with that. And yet, this one small change brought me right back.

I did leave the house. I ran my errands.

No one cared. People either recognize me on the bus because they know me or have seen me, or they don’t, and I bet those who do did not notice the difference between bangs and no bangs.

What a silly, silly thing.

Change can be good, even when it’s scary. And, most people don’t care about you or what you’re doing. Most people don’t care about me and what I’m doing. This is incredibly freeing, when I care to remember it.

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9 thoughts on “Lesson learned: most people don’t care.

  1. I’ve also noticed that I’m treated more maturely when I cover my hair. It’s an advantage that I love, and the confidence its given me carries over to even when I don’t veil.

    Can those headbands be tucked behind your ears and still look okay? (I always leave my ears exposed when I veil because of my hearing aids–both because the cloth would muffle things, and because if something is resting against my hearing aids, they squeal VERY LOUDLY in a way that everyone close to me can hear.)

    • I don’t see why they wouldn’t be okay tucked behind the ears– the way they’re made, there’s the headbandy part that goes around the head and then a ‘visor’ like bit that extends down the forehead. So it’s two pieces of cloth sewn together, thus there isn’t a lot of *extra* fabric that would be bunched if you tucked behind. For myself, having fabric behind the ears, along with the arms of my glasses, is too much, but I think it would *look* fine. Mind you, the top part of the band does come over a lot of the head, it really is wide.

  2. While I don’t cover my hair, I do, semi regularly cover the lower half of my face for both religious reasons and my own discomfort and I know exactly the fear you describe. I initially did it as an act of protest against proposed bans of face coverings in my country and I was terrified, absolutely terrified. But I’ve never had even so much as an odd glance in the street. No one cares.

    The most attention I get is when I do it in the house and have to jerk it down for conversations because my husband lip reads. But I still get that awful scared feeling.

    • Doing something like this in a place where it’s actually banned must be it’s own special sort of scary that I simply cannot relate to. I certainly get comments from time to time about my veiling (the worst has been from other pagans, which still surprises me and maybe shouldn’t) but no one has yet been aghast at *how* I veil.

      • Happily, I believe it’s still only proposed. The idea was to stop people with face coverings obscuring themselves on CCTV, but there was huge backlash from Muslim communities, among others, so I believe it’s been dropped. Some public buildings won’t let you in if you’re covering your face though. They assume you’re about to commit a crime.

  3. Upon noticing my desire and fear of being a male-presenting person wearing a dress in public, Loki sent me a dream where he has nearly yelling, “no one cares! Nobody is looking at us!”

    Not long after that dream, I got the guts to buy my first dress. Now I have four and wear them in public sometimes! I’m lucky to live in an open-minded city yet my mom is still terrified I will get beaten up.

    Not the same as covering your head but definitely still rooted in the same public fear of the Other.

  4. I am glad you were able to rework your veiling in a way that helped you both show your outward sign of devotion to Poseidon and also met your own needs of comfort and rightness (that you needed to cover your bangs). While I don’t cover my head every time when praying before my altar and the gods do respond to me, I do sense a stronger clarity when I approach Them with my head covered. I’m glad you saw you didn’t have anything to worry about when you stepped outside, in the end. 😉

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