On May 17, 2016 I had my 3-year natural hair anniversary. Time has definitely passed swiftly during this journey. I call it a journey because it became something much more than hair care, it became life maintenance. Before I went natural I used to hear women speaking about their big chop experiences and how liberating it was. After transitioning for 9 months, I thought I would try my hand at liberation but found myself drowning in a sea of insecurity after I cut. I didn’t have the moment of freedom that so many women spoke of and find it until much much later.
Something as simple as hair, little did I know, became more about me than it did about the follicles that grew out of my scalp, though they were important. When I big chopped I felt ugly because I had never had short hair before and I no longer had it to hide behind. I immediately wanted to hide, I cried and I pitied the woman looking back at me in the mirror. The first time I felt the wind on my scalp was traumatizing to say the least. So, because I wasn’t ready to deal with my appearance nor feelings I opted to get braids and wear protective styles for about 6 months.
At the 6 month mark I felt that I had grown attached to my appearance and wanted to challenge myself to let it go, I colored my hair. Because I was inexperienced on the art of hair color and care, the color didn’t show well so for the next 3 months I dyed it over and over again. Needless to say, I damaged my hair shaft and my hair weakened tremendously. Yet, I pushed through and embraced my natural hair. Simultaneously, I challenged my insecurities and ideas of beauty daily. I did the hard work of rebuilding myself and my confidence divorced of outside influences. It was difficult unlearn self-hate but it was worth it.
During my 1st year of being natural I continued to learn new things about my hair, it’s needs and even some of my own. I decided to embrace God as well. I got baptized and attempted to live a holy life. Though not without struggle, I made conscious decisions to live life on purpose and try to figure out my calling. My hair continued to grow and so did I. At the time, I was moving from St. Louis to Alabama to start a PhD program and embark upon a new chapter in my life–one that had its own set of issues. I learned that my hair didn’t like the Alabama heat nor could it tolerate the humidity but it eventually got adjusted and so did I.
Within the 2nd year of my hair journey I would say I experienced the most growth. Primarily, I had to learn to fully love myself. Though I had learned some concepts in the first year of my life, there were several instances when I had to understand the severity of years of self-neglect. I had to confront my myself and others whom I allowed to stay in my sacred space–my heart–and evict them and their toxic behaviors from my person. In essence I cleaned house but it had to start with my impure thoughts. I also had to cut the damaged ends off of my hair that year. I dyed my hair black and decided to try to nurse my hair back to health with doing the same in my spiritual life. Self-love is just as strong as self-hate they equally have lasting promises.
Entering into the 3rd year I’ve become aware of my destiny more vividly. I’m in the process of embracing it and walking in my purpose. As for my hair, I believe it will flourish as well.
My hair and spiritual journeys are inextricable linked.