It has been awhile since I did a natural hair focused post on here. Thankfully I have had the opportunity to write about natural hair for other outlets, but always nice to share with my readers as well. 2016 has no doubt been a rough year for many, myself included. But with every challenge comes a lesson - below are 5 natural hair lessons that I learned this year.
1. I really am NOT my hair
My career life at the moment revolves around natural hair. I have the amazing opportunity to write and talk about it on a weekly basis. It has been a dream come true to share my experiences and opinions on hair, but it can make you think that your hair is more of a focus than it has to be. As important as it is to my personal black identity, if I lost it all tomorrow I would still be me. May seem like a simple lesson to learn but parts of our physical being can easily take on weight. If you are always known as the person with a specific feature (pretty eyes, great smile, perfect body) you can start to wonder if you would be the same without those things.
2. But my hair is mine
While my hair does not define me, it is mine and it is a major part of my identity at the moment. This means I have the authority to make any and all decisions about it. I wrote an article about allowing people to touch my hair when they ask - and received some less than positive comments about being a "pet". This is mine. And with that ownership comes the confidence to not explain every decision that I make about it. From my decision to go natural, to my routine of how to care for it now, this has been a personal journey. I am so thankful to be able to share it publically but my hair is mine.
3. Growth is about much more than inches
At the beginning of this year, I trimmed a good amount off of my hair after wearing a protective style through the holidays. I expected to see tons of length after this trim, and I didn't. This helped me realize the weight of "length checks" and "hair goals", and how I was allowing them to determine how I looked at my hair. My hair is healthy, and more importantly my thoughts and feelings about my natural self have grown in the past year. For me, this came with watching less YouTube videos and reading less "how to grow your hair overnight" posts - comparison was stunting my growth. I am excited to continue looking at my hair in comparison to where my hair was last year and being thankful for all of the progress.
4. Words matter
Bad hair days, "tackle this birds nest", and the dread of wash days. I realize that I still had a lot of negative feelings towards my natural hair, and the years long taught concept that it was difficult or unmanageable. Words hold weight and I have been consciously working to speak more positively about my hair, to others and to myself. I have a nine year-old niece who is learning everything about loving herself and her hair from looking at the women in our family. I can't affirm that she is beautiful while telling myself that I need to change in order to get there.
5. Change is gonna come
My hair doesn't respond to humidity, styling or certain products the way that it has in previous years. Could be a change in porosity - or a change in air pressure - or ingredients used in products. A lot of things factor in to change, and the blessing of time will bring about change in all areas of our beings. Throughout this year, I have discovered new things about my ancestry, about my current career dreams and goals, and about my hopes for the future. All of these factors have changed how I look at myself and the space I am thankful to fill at this moment. Change should be welcomed because it means that we are still alive, and that we have the gift and opportunity to adapt as the world around us keeps moving along.
"So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true - these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it." Ephesians 5:9-10