Fear of being labeled

I remember how fear had a hard grip on my life.
I like to think about it in the past tense as if I could get over that fear, or as if had gotten over it already. Never actually managing to really stop feeling fear or being fearful.


I recall traveling to London for the first time, most people thought that I must have been thrilled or in awe, but all I could feel is fear. 
It was a distant feeling, but I still could feel its presence.

London

On my third day in London, I was walking and appreciating the local street shops, and talking to my friends about most random subjects.

The first time I felt real fear was when I have entered a candy shop. I was overly joyous. It was late, perhaps after 6 PM. 
The shop was located on one of the busiest streets near the Camden market and there were many other open shops around.
The street was bustling with crowds that were intrigued by the local goods as presented on the shops’ window display.

As I entered the shop, I made sure to walk slowly and scan carefully all the items around me, looking for a rare find.
I remember hearing a foreign language, a language I’ve once learned at school but forgot. My friends came into the store a few seconds later and were deep in conversation.

Suddenly I heard it, I froze and panicked and immediately looked for my friends in order to signal them with my hand that we have to look for an urgent escape.

What triggered my fear was when I heard the shop owners said in their language (which is not English): “See there, these are name_of_a_religion” — I could understand that much, they wear pointing at my friends’ location.

My friends didn’t notice my signaling at all, but they did see me running towards the exit. When I walked out, I tried to catch a breath as I was shaking, not only due to the cold but due to what just happened.


It might seem ridiculous to you, being afraid of hearing someone wording out my so-called religion. It’s funny, those shop owners heard my friends talking in their native language and immediately made the connotation that there are name_of_a_religion. What might be so scary about that?

It was scary to me, as I had to take precautions, I instinctively knew what the shop owners might think, or worse — do something that could harm me or my friends.


Now, I am always scared, scared of speaking aloud my second native language. Why? Because there are people in the world who would immediately correlate it to my so-called religion.
Once the correlation is made, they will load a ton of associations they have on that religion into their mind. At that moment it’s better for me not to be around because I could never fathom their possible reaction.

It strikes me in amazement, that there are people who judge others’ by their native language and religion. 
I’m not that so-called religion, but I still am in a lot of people’s minds as soon as I speak that specific language.

Why should I be fearful for using the language I was raised on speaking?
Why should I be fearful for bringing up the country I have spent most of my life at?

People enjoy to judge, to categorize and put labels on you.
It’s agonizing to slowly realize that once you have been labeled, there’s no way out.