Getting judged can be really scary, especially if it's in public and your loved ones get dragged in as well. I feel like there's a fine line between advising, judging and shaming - although these three can easily get mingled up, the effect of individual actions are groundbreaking. However, as horrible as it is, these are the things in life that everyone will and have to go through at least once in their lifetime.
My first time happened at a point in my life where I understood what my emotions meant and when I cared about what other people think because I'm old enough to understand why certain things happen. I guess it wasn't really my first time, but it sure felt like it. That day, I have never felt so ashamed and shunned. I read about other people being publicly shamed and humiliated and I read from books how it feels like to be shamed and humiliated but I could never quite relate to it. That's because I never actually experienced a real shaming.
You see, I have been in compromising and dreadful situations where I just want to shrink and not exist. I've been told off by my parents in public, harshly shouted at by my teachers, inflicted embarrassment on my own anxious and awkward self but none of them were as bad as this:
I was on my way to a Malay wedding. A distant relative of mine got married so I didn't quite know anyone there, but my dad knew almost every single guest that were invited. In a malay wedding, the first order of business is called "akad nikah". This is when the Imaam legitimates it on paper; black and white. Normally, this takes place in a mosque. Usually, my parents would tell me where we're going so I know to dress appropriately for the event but this time, my dad forgot. So, I went in my kebaya. Everything covered, except my head. On the way to the mosque, I told my dad that I didn't want to get down because I didn't want to appear insensitive and disrespectful. My dad insisted that I came down, arguing "Orang tak kisah lah. You look young." But out of my own sense of respect, I still insisted that I stayed in the car in which my dad eventually said okay to. When we arrived at the location, some of the guests were asking my dad my whereabouts and he told them the situation. One of the older ladies there demanded that I came out of the car. My dad had no say because the flock of older women were very persistent in making me come out of the car. "Sekarang ni zaman modern lah, orang tak kisah. Nureen muda lagi. Takpe. Pakaian pun menutup. Turun je" This insistence went on for five minutes. I I thought it would be rude to turn down a direct invitation, especially as they were much older than me, especially when one of them was the host of the wedding.
As expected, upon walking to the mosque's entrance, the group of men gave me disapproving glances. It was horrible, especially when they all knew my dad. I felt sorry that my dad looked bad because of me. When I went into the ladies's section, again, judgy glances everywhere. I even saw one lady nudging their friend whilst subtly pointing at me and whispering to their friend. As I sat down, the host engaged in a conversation with me to try and make me feel comfortable I guess and we were interrupted by this lady who suddenly asked "Anak siapa ni?" "Suhardy" "Mak mana?" I knew the intention behind her questions and that's when the knots started to form in my stomach.
Not long after that interjection, this man came towards us and he told me to cover my head. Because the man's voice was so loud, everyone heard it. As I was the youngest one there, it made me feel even more humiliated. Immediately after he left, I felt the heaviness of everyone's eyes in the room just looking at me. It's worse because they know me and they know my parents so not only did I feel embarrassed but I also felt extremely guilty for, in malay's terms, "memalukan mak bapak". The host kindly told me to not worry and that she'll find a hijab for me and so I was left alone there, with everyone else in the room.
It was unbearable, I was going to cry. I walked up, tried to stay compose, went to my dad and with a shaky voice, asked for the car keys so I could hide there. As soon as I got in the car, my tear ducts just exploded. Suddenly, someone knocked on the window, it was the host. Angry swear words filled up my head. I wasn't angry at her but I was just pissed that she saw me crying. It was her big day and I didn't want her, as the host, to feel guilty that one of her guests cried at her ceremony. She pleaded me to come in, stroking my back, apologizing. Oh god, the apology made me feel even worse. I felt like a horrible person. She had no reason to apologize but I could tell from her face that she felt uneasy about the entire thing. In the end, I assured her that I'll be fine and that I was just a bit flushed by the incident.
Not long after that, my dad came in, bringing in plenty of tissue and food for me. First line: "Ween okay? Sorry win....." FRICK MY HEART BROKE TO PIECES. Why was he apologizing? I made him look bad infront of all those people but now he's feeling guilty. I just felt like a huge burden that day, to everyone.
I guess the reason why this experience was so horrible was because it was an overlap of bad things. My own anxiety, the judgy look I got from all these older people, my fear of being denounced publicly happened and the really kind people (the host) and my loved ones (my dad) were being dragged into my own mistake.
I don't know why I'm posting this but this is a medium of sharing and expressing and I also had a spark of urge to write. That is all. There is no moral to the story except for 1) Know where you're going 2) Food is the best cure of them all. And hugs from your loved ones.