What did she do?!

Ever since I started this blog, I have tried to write a post every 3rd Thursday. Once a week or every 2 weeks seemed too frequent, and once a month didn’t seem quite enough. Somehow I landed on Thursdays and for the past 4 blog posts, I haven’t looked back. This Thursday I was due for a new post, but I just couldn’t write. I only had one thing on my mind and today, that one thing occurred…

My whole entire life I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair. In most recent years, however, the hate has dissipated leaving only love behind. For that reason, the past few months have been hard. In the last year, I started noticing that my hair was thinning. For a long time I tried to ignore it, then I started doing things that would help distract people from noticing it, but in the past few weeks I have started coming to terms with it. Maybe it’s genetics, my diet, known or unknown health concerns, or the weight of my heavy hair, but for some reason, the thickness at the tip of my long hair was starting to look drastically different from the thinness at the top. After talking to my mother, sister and a loctitian, and crying it out a bit, I knew what I had to do. Some (or rather most) of my hair would have to go in order the leave the new growth strong enough to be sustained.

It’s funny how something as simple as a haircut can really shake you and change how you view yourself. In the last couple of years, my hair has been one of the largest, if not the largest, source of the compliments I have received. It has felt really good to be showered with those praises. It wasn’t abnormal for me to have 5 to 10 strangers complimenting my hair on any given day. Friends took part in the practice as well. Just a couple weeks ago I had a fun shopping day with friends and got countless positive comments on my locs. Little did the commentators know that I had be using headbands to cover up my thinning hairline for weeks. Most of my friends haven’t even noticed. Yet still I arrived at today and I had to face the truth.

What made losing my hair or cutting it so hard in the first place? Sure I might not be as “beautiful” as I was before or I might not have the versatility of doing as many styles, but that wasn’t really what it was about was it? My hair has become and will probably always be a piece of my identity. The truth is I was (and still am) scared of what will or won’t be left when this thing that has become such a big part of me disappears. When I am not getting compliments on my hair anymore, will there be anything left to compliment? Now, for many of you reading this (especially males) this probably just seems like a lot of random, useless personal thoughts, but it isn’t. What I am saying applies to everyone out there. Maybe for you “that thing” is your hair like it is for me, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s the fit figure you lost after you went through a difficult stage of life where working out wasn’t a priority. Perhaps it’s the job you were fired or laid off from, the significant other you thought you were going to marry before the relationship started deteriorating, or the career, dreams, or free time you had to release after you had a baby.

We all have those things we hold on to in order to help make sense of our identity. Whether it is something seemingly shallow, like my hair, or far more complicated like goals or ambitions, at some point most of us have to ask ourselves the question, “who would I be without that one thing?”. Would I matter? Would others still like me? Will I still be me? I debated with myself about whether or not to write this post. I was afraid I was being too personal for the online world or that I’d feel ashamed  if people knew about the situation I am in, but then I decided I have no reason to be ashamed of something I ultimately had no control over. I also decided that, fortunately, I am rooted in an identity far more unshakeable than my hair. Even if someday every last hair falls out of my head, I’ll know the truth is that my hair never defined me in the first place. So in the meantime, I’ll be humming along to India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair,” and hope that my words caused just one person to do some soul searching and realize he or she is far bigger and better than that flimsy thing they spent so much energy hanging on to, believing their identity was hinging on it… IMG_1003