On March 4, 2017, at the tender age of 31, I knew in my spirit that this was a particular time for a woman. Wherever you go, you hear a woman speak about how being in your thirties gives you clarity about the woman you want to become. An automatic switch occurs in our brains that make us in tune with our mind, body, and spirit. You are quick wit and have a no-nonsense approach to everything. You are more confident then you've ever felt before. Those values didn't align with how I truly felt inside. At that time in my life, I had been wearing my natural hair for five years.
I enjoyed the many stages of my luscious curls. I religiously watched hours upon hours of YouTube videos and spent hundreds of dollars on hair care products. I became obsessed with how I wanted my hair to turn out. I spent hours perfecting the perfect twist out. I enjoyed the process, but there were times I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. As much as I enjoyed my hair, I noticed that it started to tell a story. It went from bouncy, thick, moisturized curls to brittle, thin, and prone-to-breakage curls.
Stress and depression ruined my natural hair.
At the time, I didn't know what actions I needed to take to revive my hair. As my hair started to become an insecurity of mine, I made an impulse decision to cut it one day. As I look back on that dark time in my life, cutting my hair was one of the worst decisions I've ever made.
Stress And Depression
I was getting restless and impatient in my natural hair journey. While patiently waiting in the doctor's office one day, I decided to do the unthinkable. I wanted to cut my hair. I did not experience a breakup, nor did I lose my job. I just wanted to change my identity. Depression works in mysterious ways. You get consumed with your thoughts that you don't want to be yourself anymore. I was one year in from being diagnosed with depression, and I had no clue what to do.
I didn't have the resources to take steps to heal. I suffered in silence. I was confused, angry, lonely, and sad.
I wanted to make sense of it all, and I thought a haircut would be symbolic of a fresh start; at least that's how it plays out in movies. You stand in the mirror with clippers in hand crying and buzzing your tresses away. The next day, you jump out of bed wearing leather and high heel boots like you have it all together. Unfortunately, that's not how my story ended.
As far back as I can remember, my hair has always been the topic of discussion. From press-and-curls to ponytails with knocker balls, I still received compliments. Other women and girls were shocked to hear that I never had a perm and that I'm not "mixed." My mother took pride in teaching me healthy hair care.
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At my hair appointment, I had a feeling of anxiousness. I wanted this hair off of my head as soon as possible. I wanted the dead weight finally lifted. I wanted to be happy and carefree. As the stylist started to cut, I wanted to see my depression land on the floor with the rest of my hair. I became allergic. I didn't want to see my hair, feel my hair, take pictures of my hair. I didn't want to make it an event. I just wanted it gone. Walking out of that salon with a fresh haircut awakened my spirit. It wasn't until that moment I experienced sunshine and good weather. My five senses became alert.
That was the first time I smiled in a very long time. I was finally happy. I was ready to conquer the world.
The first couple of years without hair were terrific. I no longer had to spend hours washing and prepping my hair for the week. Frizz and humidity were an afterthought. The fact that I could put the product in my hair and smooth it all over and leave the house without hesitation was exciting. My hair no longer became a priority. My friends and family didn't agree entirely with my decision. Some enjoyed it, and others disliked it. At the time, how others felt about my hair wasn't my problem at all. I would receive compliments on how my hair matched my personality. I finally felt confident. It was an automatic mood-changer.
Having long hair dictated how I lived my life. Sweating wasn't an option so I couldn't work out, getting in the pool during a hot summer's day gave me anxiety. I never participated in water balloon fights. My hair became another layer of my depression that I no longer needed. Having shorter hair didn't occupy my thoughts as much anymore; I no longer cared. Freedom has no barriers, and at that particular time, I was free yet still depressed and gloomy. I let myself and my hair go, and I had no regrets.
The Change of Heart
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September 2018 was when I decided to get therapy. Five months in, my perspective on certain things began to change. Something I once wanted, I no longer desired. Things I needed, I no longer found necessary. I started to inherit a certain level of clarity that I've never had. My insecurities led me to believe that my hair was one of the many problems I was dealing with, which caused me to slip deeper into a depression.
After being asked "What does beauty look like to you?" from my therapist, I quickly realized that having longer hair represented beauty to me. I knew there was nothing wrong with having shorter hair. I felt like I no longer needed my short hair to get rid of my depression. I wanted the best of both worlds by coping with my depression and getting my curls back.
After reflecting on that time, I realized three things that I should've done before cutting my hair off.
Dissecting What Femininity Meant To Me
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As many of us will admit, I was one of those people who loved the Explore page on Instagram. You can scroll through an endless library of hair products, wig tutorials, and modern hair trends. I got lost in a trance. I started to compare my hair to the women I would see.
When I looked in the mirror, I saw a woman who had the potential to be beautiful, but deep down, I felt unattractive. Having my hair at my old length made me feel like a woman. I realized that looking like a woman is only half of the battle. I had to analyze what femininity meant to me.
I can say proudly that my womanhood has nothing to do with my hair, but it has everything to do about how I see myself in this lifetime. Anyone can achieve a look. Femininity is more of a spiritual journey. When I started to become grateful for the power that I have as a woman, I could just cry. It's an energy that one must meditate on and practice daily.
Self-Love Is an Inside Job
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What we think about ourselves shows others how we would like to be respected and loved. If you can't acknowledge the love you have for yourself, others will find it impossible to see it. It's a constant tug of war that you have with your mind daily. If you're stuck in this predicament, I'm here to tell you that it can change with consistency and patience. I had to realize that how I viewed myself was a bad habit that I allowed to slip into my subconscious. I was ignorant to the fact that my words have power.
It's impossible to live with confidence if you are always saying that you aren't worthy. I was introduced to affirmations by my therapist. Repeating something as simple as "I affirm that I am willing to release the causes and patterns in my consciousness that are creating any negative conditions in my life" can release any or all the pressure you put on yourself. There are endless amounts of premade affirmation cards available online. Reducing my negative self-talk worked for me. I was encouraged to create self-care habits.
Many people think that self-care means a spa day every day, which isn't the case. Self-care simply means to find joy in things that interest you or something you could see yourself doing for free. That's when I found writing as my joy. My negative thoughts reminded me of a revolving door. As a group of negative thoughts exit, a new set of negative words enter. Writing provides clarity. It gives my thoughts and feelings a voice. For many, that might not be as rewarding, but to hear that I'm an inspiration to women eliminates my depression. I can finally say without hesitation that I'm proud of myself for being patient with myself. To be brave enough to allow others to read my stories brings power and grace that no haircut could give me.
I Should've Gone to Therapy First
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I can admit while looking back at all of the choices I've made that I wasn't in my right state of mind. My mind was so weak at that time that I could've quickly fallen into drugs and alcohol. On the one hand, I was desperate for an easy fix. Depression didn't look good on me. The more I attempted to hide, the more it would show up through my hair. My logic at the time was that my hair was damaged. Cutting it will give my hair a chance to grow healthy again.
What I didn't realize is that my supply of band-aids was never-ending. I overcompensated a lot to cover or mask my pain.
Therapy should've been my first option. I would've used the tools to help me navigate through depression and anxiety. The fact that I had the chance to speak my mind without feeling judged would've made me feel so much better. My methods to cope only dealt with the surface. The therapist would want to get to the root.
I can write and display what I should have done during that time for hours. Still, as I'm going through this process of healing, I can admit that the idea of therapy was accepted, but being willing to sit down and speak created another layer of anxiety. I wasn't ready, and that is OK. I needed that tough time in my life to help me put certain things into perspective today. I can proudly say that I've completed my first year of therapy, my last haircut was February 2019, and I've been growing it out ever since.
From an excellent spiritual place, I can determine what hairstyles I want to try. I created a rule that if I ever feel the need to cut my hair that I follow these simple steps: Write it out, speak out loud, take a nap, then find the right protective style.
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