My entire life has been made up with lessons, teachers having arrived in various forms. With every reflection, every journal entry comes the realization of the exact forms those teachers have taken. On a recent reflection my teacher came through as my hair. For those who don’t know me, I have decided to grow my hair out. That wasn’t my original intention. It started with a breakup with my hairdresser at the end of last year. A devastating loss and yet I now realize was one of the first lessons my hair was teaching me. Lesson 1: Let go of relationships that do not serve me.
Lesson 2: Don’t care what others think but more importantly don’t tie your importance to your looks. My hair had become my identity but more importantly a reflection of how I felt on the inside. Anytime it grew out even slightly I felt like I was suffocating, and cutting it was therapeutic – a release from the confines I believed society had placed on me but in reality were merely a reflection of the walls I placed myself in. So without even realizing it I kind of gave up on my hair. I let it do what it wanted to do. I felt zero pull to cut it and was able to ignore it once it got the point of where I’d normally feel suffocated. It just didn’t bother me anymore.
Lesson 3: Let go, but within comfortable reason
After a few months of it growing out I finally accepted the fact that I was actually letting it grow out. The thought of my hair finally came back on my radar and while I didn’t know where the journey would take me I didn’t feel tied to any particular outcome. It was about this time that I felt it necessary to get a little trim because while there are many things I could feel comfortable with, having a mullet was not one of them. So I went to my new hairstylist and proclaimed I was growing it out which leads to Lesson 4: Acceptance without expectations.
See usually I would have a plan whenever I attempted to grow it out in the past. It would include such things as having a cute, short bob or to have bangs or whatever “on-trend” thing was that I felt I wanted to be at the moment. Inevitably my attempts would fail, suffocation would ensue and it’d end up getting chopped off anyway but it was always a valiant effort. This time around though felt different. I didn’t have a plan other than to wait and see how I felt – maybe to put it more aptly it was to wait to see how my hair felt because it isn’t weird to think of your hair having a life of it’s own, is it? Which leads me to Lesson 5: I am not my hair
My hair is not me and I am not my hair. And yet I have allowed my hair to express how I felt on the inside since I was so afraid to project that on the outside. My hair, having been short, exuded confidence. It made me feel powerful, fearless and a risk-taker. I received compliments all the time, often with people (men and women) exclaiming how brave I was- how they could never pull off short hair or be bold enough to do so. And in some way I felt victorious – like yes, I showed you, I showed everyone. I am CONFIDENT! I am FEARLESS! I AM…I AM….I am……scared. I am none of these things. I want to believe that I am these things but I don’t feel them at all. And while my appearance shows you what I want you to believe on the inside I am a scared little girl who is trying to navigate this world that feels really scary. And as I touch my hair I realize that it has merely been a reflection of my own doubt. It has been a reflection of my own ideas of self-worth. And it came as the perfect teacher when I needed it the most.
Lesson 6: Letting Go
I don’t know where my hair is going and I don’t care. All I know is how I feel in any given moment. In fact, the only mirror I have in my home is in the bathroom and even then I rarely take a second look once I am out of the shower. My hair will dry as it’s supposed to, it will style itself as it wants to and if I ever get the residual sensation of not being able to breathe, as I occasionally still do, I have a great collection of headbands that seems to do the trick.
My hair has taught me to stand strong in who I am no matter how that looks on the inside or outside. Some days I feel like curling up in bed and not moving. Other days I feel like dancing in the street without care as to who sees. And you know what, that is okay. My hair has taught me to accept where I am in my life. Life is a journey – a roller coaster of lessons and love and beauty and joy. And no I don’t have it all figured out nor do I need to. All I have to do is trust that whatever I need will come my way when it is meant to and everything else is just noise. I forgive myself for all the times I did not express compassion on my journey and I am grateful for listening to myself this time around.