Thursday, September 22, 2016

changes 6.0: riding the wave

For as long as I can remember, I worked for straight hair.

Blow drying in steamy bathrooms. Hot ironing before heading out of my bedroom. Bottles of shampoos and conditioners all promising help.

So much of me, my ego, my sense of self was tied up in my straight, at times bordering on perfect hair.

If my hair looked good, I was good.

When my hair was neat, controlled, managed, tamed, that reflected out the parts of me I wanted the world to believe were who I intrinsically was. There was no room for mess, for change, for awkward or volatile or unattractive. I wanted to be in control and have everyone see me that way.

Story of my life.

Inner turmoil masked with straight hair, a big smile, and a powerhouse drive to get things done.

Last summer, I gave up. Gave in. Threw in the towel (or at least straightening tools).

It was a sweltering August day, upper 90s, and as I sweated just holding my hair iron, not able to see myself in the bathroom mirror from the building up of fog, I stopped. The ridiculousness of what I was doing struck me. I unplugged my necessary accessories and walked out.

And then had to acclimate to the messy head I was choosing.

For someone so used to absolute control, wavy hair was an existential crisis. That is not an exaggeration. I stopped looking in mirrors. I apologized for how I looked when running into people. I researched products and techniques and spent more time and money on serums and sprays and beach bounce gel than one person should.

I dreaded having my picture taken. I hated people asking me what was different, assuming it was a polite way of noting I'd looked much better before.

And then, it all stopped.

I stopped caring. It stopped mattering. I left my house without touching my hair - how I woke up was how I spent the day.

And that was freeing. Letting go of expectations, of perfection, of rigidity, of control.

Turns out I was able to let go of those things in other places too. My hair was the way in.

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