Friday Reflections: 7 Years, 7 Lessons

 By: ReignElle

It’s so crazy that I have been natural for 7 years. During this time, like many people, I have had ups and downs, heartaches and even breakups with my hair. Going natural 7 years ago is nothing like what it is today. Taking the first step to “go natural”, during a time when it just wasn’t mainstream was so liberating, scary and intimidating. I learned so much about myself during this time, and as you go through your own personal journey you will learn your own lessons. Here are mine:

1. Not Creating My Own Idea of Beauty. When I first went natural, I thought beauty was pretty much defined by how long and straight my hair was. I remember being in college, and really feeling insecure about what others would think of my hair. As a person that was so independent, and strong, I felt so weak and ashamed of what naturally grew from my scalp. And it wasn’t until I actually realized the fear, and questioned myself that I was able to officially wear my hair naturally. I cared so much about what everyone else thought, and not enough about what I really wanted. I took some time to understand who I was and what I wanted, while appreciating my opinion about what MY beautiful is.

2. Hair Obsessions. It seems once someone goes natural, they automatically have an obsession with someone else’s hair. You go through a period of seeing girls with the perfect curls, long hair and the best hairstyles and you believe your hair can mimic that. You watch all the YouTube videos, buy every product, and ask every “natural” with similar textures of that ideal for advice. You practice and work hard for an ideal of what natural hair is supposed to look like that is not within reality. The obsession is literally surreal, and during this time you forget that your tight curls will never be loose and that it took someone 4 years to grow hair that length.  Over the years, I’ve learned to look at my hair realistically and become obsessed with MY hair. That meant finding women who had similar textures that I did, understanding that products aren’t miracles in a bottle and that at the end of the day it is just hair.

3. Hair Length Doesn’t Matter. Once I got a handle on my hair, I became motivated to grow my hair in lengths that it had never been before… and I did. The focus of my long hair challenges are even documented here on the blog. With time and experience I realized not paying attention to my hair, was when I really saw great strides in length. But then I became….

4. Bored With Natural Hair. 2012 has been an interesting year for me and my hair. I went through a period of being extremely bored  with my hair, and I am the girl with 101 hairstyles. The natural hair styles and the movement overall were really becoming a dime a dozen, and I just wanted something new. But instead of putting my hair away like I usually do, I got a hair cut. And it was a MAJOR hair cut (ie: deep layers). (Realization: You will get bored! )It was so freeing just to do something different, and I appreciated my options. Although now as my hair grows out in that awkward phase, I question if I could have been creative in other ways. And now over 6 months after I cut my hair, I am craving for my length back. I think in the future I may get an even shorter hair cut, but only time will tell. Sometimes I wonder, is natural hair forever?

5. Tough Skin. One of the biggest gifts that I received since going natural, is the ability to let criticism roll off my back. It’s amazing how strongly people feel about the hair that grows from YOUR scalp. Its often the people around you who give you the harshest criticism. I received some of the most interesting feedback from people I love the most, and I never wavered because I knew that they didn’t understand. I had an amazing conversation with my grandmother about my hair. She is a woman that owned beauty salons, and lives by the idea that if it isn’t straight it isn’t great. She will tell you just how horrible she thinks your hair is. I love her for her honesty. But I also appreciate her because if you cant take criticism from those that love you, imagine what those who don’t will say. I have the toughest skin when it comes to who I am, and especially what I do with my hair. To all of you natural women, especially those that are just starting out, hold your head high and don’t be discouraged! Everyone has an opinion but only you know why you are going down this road.

6. Confidence. YOU CAN’T TELL ME MY HAIR IS NOT FLY. And really that’s all I have to say about that!

7. Freedom. The most amazing part about my journey thus far is the freedom of living and not worrying about my hair. I never realized until recently, how limited I lived my life based on whether or not my hair would hold up.  Think about all the times you’ve ditched the gym, didn’t go to the pool, stop dancing because you didn’t want your roots to get puffy, or slept  with your head hanging off the side of the bed (I know it wasn’t just me). I love the fact that I can walk in the rain, do something random, wash my hair in the middle of the day and keep moving on. If being natural has done nothing else, it has freed my mind, my time, and has encouraged those around me to become free too.

No matter the length of you hair, what lessons have you learned? Feel free to share! Comment Below!

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