All that Staring.

>> Saturday, December 22, 2012

Men, guys, dudes, the opposite gender. WHATEVER you want to call them, they elicit an exasperated sigh, and shrug of the shoulders from me. I have two problems.                                      1.       I have an issue with guys staring at me. It’s is really A HUGE BURDEN for me, and is more complicated given my second problem                                                                                        .2.       I am ULTRA SHY, near agoraphobic. I can’t interact with my classmates and I just can’t seem to communicate with people away from my home life. I get ubber-tressed and it really affects my concentration in school.                                                                           Every semester since I can remember I’ve had one or two guys who are PERSISTENT in staring at me. It’s ridiculous. Always in class. They are not guys I socialize with, or guys who even TALK to me. They just stare. You have to realize that these guys are not attracted to me because of my physical beauty, but only stare at me. I have features that are, ‘strange’ or ‘unreal’ for someone of my ethnic group and so to some extent I can understand the looking, but not to the way I’ve experienced it. My first semester there was this guy who stared at me for two hours and evidently failed the class. I had the personality back then when such a thing was funny. This never use to be a problem because I didn’t use to wear hijab or dress the way I should, but since I began to dress modestly and wore hijab I thought it’d end. I just get ‘stared’, which for me signifies ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ People I’ve told tell me I’m being ‘paranoid’ or ‘cute’, aka, conceited. The one thing I do know is that, I feel hurt, like I’m the red ball in a cluster of white balls. And I can’t ignore it. There is always a guy in my class EVERY semester who thinks its fun to stare mysteriously at me for hours. First, I’m in denial, then I get flattered (just a little), then I get irked, then someone turns on the dial to full-blown annoyance, and I can’t function. AT ALL. And lastly, I fall for the person. The last is the worse symptom I have. This semester there is this guy in my class, and like the previous guys stares at me ALL DAY, and makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do, he is present in my school life. I’m EXTRA shy, so it irks me to a level even my sister thinks is paranoia, I’ve told her and she doesn’t believe it when I describe how all my seat-changes don’t matter to the guy. NOTE: he sits at the very front. This brings the ridiculous question of ‘how can he keep looking at you while he’s in the front’ Oh, yes it’s possible, very much so. I’ve lost all humor for this kind of situation. I can always see him in my peripheral vision, even if I lower my gaze, which is hard to do and learn at the same time. So WHAT am I supposed to do? I could imagine this guy is a stalker and I should report him or something extreme like that, then there will just be ANOTHER GUY. Plus this guy is one of the people at school whose practically everyone’s friend, he’s known to be intelligent, caring, and an overall pleasant guy, someone who values education and is very soft-tempered. The problem is I’ve partially fallen for this guy. There is something about him, he seems almost muslim-ish, but I’m doubtful. I don’t know why a guy like that has such an ugly side, or rather ALL GUYS seem to have this ugly side when it comes to me. I cringe as I write all this!! I’m really embarrassed!!! So, give it to me straight aunties, am I being paranoid, or just simply conceited and I need a reality check.I think this all bothers me so much (because I’m a psycho, and you should send me a psych referral with you answers, or…) I’m deadly shy and insecure. Tips to overcome this?Sorry for the really, really long rambling letter!!!

Dear The Muslimah drowning in a river of tumultuous emotions,
I'm very sorry we took so long to respond to you. The reason why you couldn't see the contact page was because we had removed it since we had gotten too many questions for that month. It took us a while to get to all the questions that we'd received in the contact page...and somehow this email got buried down. Sorry about that *blushes*
AS for your situation, we don't think that you're some kinda psycho or anything like that. I think all of us, at one point or another, have felt that undeniable sensation of someone staring at us. And it feels weird. Creepy. Eerie. Strange. 
To have to feel that every semester would be very uncomfy. Especially if it's by someone of the opposite gender. At the same time, I can understand why you might feel yourself actually "falling" for the person, too. 

What to do? :) 

1. "They're, they're not really looking?"  You said that there is a possibility that you are imagining it and the person is not really looking at you. Well, one way to end the "anxiety" is to ask a friend who is sitting next to that person to look at the person and see if they are staring at you. Ask the friend to literally record how many times (if there are "times") the person looks in your direction and how long they look at you. Another way is to literally turn your head back quickly and stare back: are they REALLY staring at you or perhaps staring at the teacher who is standing in the front of the class or the clock on top of the wall? What if you move your chair and sit in the same row (not column) as the person? Does the person still find a way to stare at you or is it perhaps a matter of location?

2. "All eyes on me": once you've actually swiveled your head in their position and caught them staring at you, the next thing to do is ask yourself a question...What's in a look? The only fact you now know is that the person's eyes have landed on you. You have no idea though what the person is thinking of and whether or not they have consciously laid their eyes on you or are actually sitting down thinking about the video game they want to play. You see, sometimes a person does LOOK at you but isn't actually thinking of you, at all. In fact, the other day, I was walking in a mall and was staring at this person's shopping bag (wondering what store they got it from). I was staring pretty intently, too, when I felt a mean glance in my direction coming from the woman next to the man who was holding the bag. In my pre-occupation at looking at the bag, I didn't realize that the woman probably thought I was checking her husband out. What a mix-up that look led to. 

Don’t place so much emphasis on his looks since you don't know what he's thinking.

3. Prince Charming/ Not: When you start to get those fluttery feelings, thinking that maybe this is the guy for you (because he actually values you and your beauty), remind yourself that you are someone special, but that a person's admiration doesn't mean they are the right person or you. Ultimately, what do you really know about this person? That he likes to look at you? What if the only thing he cares about is actually the amazing color of your eyes or the shape of your hijab? What if he doesn't value your soul? Don't build your future around his looks. He could be looking at something and thinking someone you don't even want to know, darling. Instead, remind yourself that if you're even thinking about him or falling for him, you are falling for the picture that you are creating of him. You are making him into the Prince Charming that you want him to be- not necessarily who HE is.

Even if he is a decent kinda guy, you know the rules. The dude needs to be approaching your wali (dad) and taking the conversation from there ;)

4. Super Shyness: As for your shyness, shyness is actually a very good quality in Islam, but it does depend on what you mean by shyness. 

Good shyness is this:

If, on the other hand, your shyness is preventing you from functioning "normally", and you just keep over-worrying about this person singling you out with his looks, then, be careful. Shyness shouldn't be leading you to not being able to do your work or not being able to concentrate on your classwork. If it is, try these tips:

* Try to find a club that you can join with people like you: perhaps you like playing chess or math or any of those things? Being around like-minded people and people with the same interests should make conversation easier and keep your mind off from thinking of the guy with the looks
*  Try to plan ahead some conversation starters with some of your classmates that you want to befriend.

 Some simple things to talk about

-  'something weird you read in the newspaper' or online
-You can mention something like "how do you find the time to do X and Y"? "You can start the conversation also with a compliment like "I really like your shoes- where did you get them from?"
- You can ask people for their advice/  opinion on something. 

-- You can offer to help a person study, too :) Use your strengths to help you overcome your weaknesses :D
Remember, the people you meet all have their own stories, too :) Most people appreciate anyone who willing to help them, is courteous, and has a friendly smile. Greet the girls with a smile, forget about the guy with the stares, and face each new day at it comes.  

Well sister, I know this isn't that much, but I hope the other sisters can share their input, too =) How do you deal with stares? 

P.S. I want to stress that if you feel that the stares/inappropriate behaving that is  bordering on harassment, then the issue should be taken up with someone of authority. I didn't sense from the email that you were facing any stalking, but if any sister is dealing with stalking, she should go to those with authority.

1 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Shazana Shaik December 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM  

Jazakallah khair, Thankyou, for the very useful post. I face a similar situation as the sister in this post and i was JUST making du'a to Allah to make me a stronger person and to draw me closer to Him through tests like these. Subhanallah, here i am. Great advice. Alhamdulillahi rabbil 'alamin. Thankyou sisters :)

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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