One of the things which has been drilled into my head from a very young age is that I must always worry and care about what other people think. We are taught that as a religious Jew you have a great responsibility to act and dress in a befitting manner so that you don’t cause a bad name for the Jewish people.
One of the hardest yet most rewarding part of my frumless journey was to break away from this mindset. This was extremely difficult as it really meant changing the process of my thoughts. This was something which took me many years to accomplish.
I had known for a long time that the ultra orthodox ways were not for me. I knew that they were unhealthy for my wellbeing, however, I felt as though I had to act religious for fear of what others would think. I felt as though I was two different people; one who was perceived as being extremely religious and another with my non religious/ non jewish friends some of whom I never told I was jewish. Those years were very difficult. Its so hard to know what you want to be yet fear so much what others will think.
One day I had enough. I was emotionally drained from having to put on the religious facade. I thought to myself why do I still care? I thought about the worst thing that would happen if I showed the world my frumless self. I figured that the consequences of being openly non religious were easier to live with than having to pretend. I thought that maybe people wouldn’t want to know me when they realized that I wasn’t religious and I just didn’t care any more. If peopl didn’t like how I dressed I didn’t care. If people saw me driving on shabbat I didn’t care.
That day I stopped caring what others thought and started living my life completely frumless with no religious persona was a feeling of absolute freedom. Finally I was free to live the life I wanted to live. Free from strict, rigid rules. Free to make my own choices about my life and how I wanted to live it. Finally I was free.
I wish the ultra orthodox world stopped teaching people to care so much what others think. It’s so unhealthy. Instead they should teach them to do their best and when they make a mistake it’s ok. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be someone who we are not. The most important thing is to be able to accept people how they are and not try to mould them into something their not.