I'm 18 years old. I've been raised in a relatively devout Muslim family. Growing up I followed the strict rules: covering up, not associating with boys, learning to read the Qu'ran, and eating halal. I understood the rules from a young age, understanding that this was my way of life. I didn't really feel or see any difference in my way of life until 7th grade. At this time everyone is starting to hang out with friends outside of school, a thought that seemed for the big kids in my eyes. Even though it is hard to remember now, I may have asked my mother once if I could hang out with friends and her answer was of course no. Her reasoning was that I was too young and needed to focus on school, which at the time I did not think was too strict and even agreed with her. However it was naive of me too think that my friends would continue to ask me to hang out with them once all they heard was the answer "no". So that became the first time where it hit me that having friends is hard when they don't have the same beliefs and customs as you do. It was often depressing to not be with friends, and only coming home and staying inside all day. This is the first instance that I will realize that being lonely hurts and it sucks...a lot.
Fast forward to my first year of high school, I went to a private school about 30 minutes away from my house. I had gotten a good scholarship and it seemed like a good opportunity to be prepared for college. Commence some of the most difficult years of my life, both academically and socially. Private school was a slap to the face as it was about 100x harder than public school. And I had to learn to make an entire new group of friends. The friends I made in the beginning seemed great, we all got along and liked hanging out, until the inevitable "let's hang out on the weekend". Now by this time I thought that maybe I would be allowed to hang outside the house now, but my mother still wouldn't let me, and it came to the point where I would now think of excuses just so that I could maintain my mother's "perfect" image. Here's the thing, no matter how many times my mother has controlled or hurt me, I could never bring myself to bad mouth her in public, painting her as this wonderful mother who was cute and loved to cook, and was a sweetheart, which is exactly what she looked like when meeting my friends. But in essence she is strict and has only gotten more strict and controlling. She has verbally abused me all my life, which she names as "advice", and sees my tears as a weakness, not as a message. I love my mother and would probably do anything for her, but she has hurt me and made many aspects of my life difficult. But in high school I made excuses for her, and I mean a LOT of excuses, my mother was a perfect picture in my friend's eyes. Until my senior year, I finally was able to go out a little, there was always a limit. But what I wanted to do was hang out with my friends during the day and walk around, not at night, not clubbing, and no boyfriends. But she even saw that as too much. When asked to spend the night at my close friends house, I was denied by my mother, I am 17 then. She says that since I am Muslim I should distance myself from other people who aren't. This made me angry, what was the purpose of moving to America if all you are going to end up doing is segregating yourselves, when you decided to move here, you made a choice to assimilate to another style. It is easier for the parents to segregate themselves within their own community. Their children suffer the most, as they are expected to live by the same standards but thrust into the American world.
Even when hanging out with my many cousins who happen to live near me, I am always the only one who received multiple phone calls from home and being asked when are you coming home. When I'm hanging out with my cousins we are literally all together at my aunt's house. And we play board games, that's it, perhaps the most innocent thing ever. And even then an hourly phone call happens.
To current day: I'm 18 now and in my first year of college. My mother refuses to let me sleep over at my friend's house, wants me to limit how much time I spend with friends that I haven't seen in months, and stay inside all day doing housework. I don't have a boyfriend, I wear long sleeves and pants all day, I eat halal, and I don't go to parties. I live on the single-gender floor of my dorm and I study hard. I have not given my mother any reason to control me and I have been good despite the ever tempting style of the western culture. And those that say " well you're 18 now, just move out", it doesn't work like that. At all. In the Muslim religion, the women aren't allowed to really move out by themselves until they are married. Which is echoed by the South Asian culture. So there is absolutely no prospect for me to move out. I see my cousins being allowed to go out and myself for always hanging back. I would love to be able to feel that I can hang out with my friends, without feeling to still ASK for permission from my mother. I may be 18, but I am treated like a 12 year old. Do I despise Islam? No, but it has burdened me in many aspects of what I would like to do. That's my story, and the first time that I have ever said all this to anyone.