When we were younger, being Muslim was easy. We never questioned why Gabriella could wear miniskirts and we couldn’t, or why Jayden could eat chicken nuggets that were so forbidden to us. It was black and white, yes or no.

Occasionally, we’d get away with wearing a one-piece to the public pool, or eating gummy bears that very obviously had gelatin in them, but that was a different time. Nothing was a big deal. We were never exposed to other alternatives, the other type Muslims that we could be, the ones that brought beef jerky to school for their afternoon snack, who didn’t know how to pray in or read Arabic.

As we got older, we noticed changes in our own friends, whether it be Muslim or Non-Muslim. Appearances mattered more, and so did the opposite sex. Friday nights went from watching Disney Channel reruns to hanging out at the shady food court in the mall, and later, to house parties that always ended with the entire school buzzing about them.

You definitely lost some friends who didn’t want to be associated with someone so “boring.” Your closest friends, the ones who stuck around, never judged you for having a strict dress code, or an even stricter curfew. But, that didn’t mean you stopped feeling left out.

You started feeling like an outsider, and in your worst moments, you blamed it on your religion.

We all had a rebellious phase, whether it lasted weeks, months, or years. We turned away from the religion that had been ‘forced’ on us from such a young age. Why should we suffer for something that was never our decision, never our choice?

Most of us, the lucky ones, found our way back when we realized what being a Muslim truly means. Yes, it entails certain restrictions that aren’t always the most convenient. Yes, it makes you feel left out from time to time. Yes, it interrupts your life in ways you don’t expect. But, it gives you so much more.

It gives you the best morals to help you make the most important life decisions, paired with hope when the situation goes awry, and answers, when the world is being chaotic and confusing. Being a Muslim gives you an identity that you wouldn’t give up for the world. They key is to keep it close to your heart in a world that’s throwing curve balls at you on the daily, whether it be in person, or on social media.

The trick? Find a few good friends with the same halal-haram ratio as you. You’d be surprised how much fun being religious can be when you have the right friends to keep you company.