Older me

“I have never seen you with your hair down before. It looks amazing!”

I had known this friend for years. I’d had this hair for years. But something had been changing.

There’s a story in Alaskan Road Rules about my travails with my hair. When I wrote it, I thought I was the only one. That my special problems as a female with naturally curly hair were something no one else would understand.

When that story/essay was released into the world, I discovered that I was not alone. Almost every woman had a story about her hair.

I loved hearing how my story moved these other women.

Yes!

But that was not real life. I tied my hair up every day. I had work to do. I had to be taken seriously.

I tied my hair back. Everyday. I had a rather hostile work environment, and I didn’t want any part of me that wasn’t part of the generic silhouette of what a person with that job should be.

Until that job let me go.

At that point, I was even MORE nervous about being different. But the next job I got had a different prototype for their employees. There were a lot of visible tattoos, and people were encouraged to be themselves.

A lovely African American woman started encouraging me to let my hair down. Hmm…

I wasn’t at that job long, but it was the first place that really made me think.

A few months ago, I went to an open mic night locally. I had my hair down and I read my Curly Top story from Alaskan Road Rules.

It ran a bit long, but the MC, a gorgeous young African American woman, told me she identified with the story.

Thing is, I wasn’t that person anymore. I had learned to be okay with the burden of my hair. Reading out loud the shame and insecurities of that girl and woman that I used to be felt surreal.

Like looking at a high school yearbook.

I know better know.

Am I really old enough to be over it?

Maybe I’m over this one thing. But insecurity and shame are still big players in my life.

My hair gets to be what it wants to be. I try to direct it, but for the most part, it’s going where it wants to go.

For me, as I carry my insecurities still, am I ready to be as free as my hair now is?

I had to learn to trust my hair. And I also had to learn to trust the people around me to accept me and all that I am, which includes me hair.

Not everyone loves it. Even *I* don’t love it all the time.

But me and my hair have a right to be here.