I’m Giving Up on Long Natural Hair

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for years, one of my greatest goals in life was to have long natural hair.

In October of 2010, I received my last relaxer ever.  I remember that day, because it was also the day that my (perceived) love of my life married someone else.  As a jilted ex-lover usually is, I was devastated, shattered.  But I was mainly frustrated and exhausted at myself.

Sitting in the parking lot of the salon, waiting for my hairdresser to arrive, I looked back at all the time I had wasted believing myself to be not only a victim in some silly romantic drama, but also a contender.  Surely, he loved me!  Surely, it was just a matter of time before he would realize the truth–that I was the one for him and he should call off the wedding on my behalf!

I know.  I know.

In that lot, I forced myself to come to terms with reality:  I had allowed myself to be a pathetic toy, a fun distraction.  I had disrespected myself into a silly delusion.

I hated that self.  And I didn’t want to resemble that self anymore.

Over the months, I had been lingering more and more on whether I should go natural.  That moment of resolve cinched that decision.

With my last relaxer would die the old B.  With the new B would come confidence, self-respect, and super healthy, super long natural hair.

It took about six months to grow out my last relaxer, but by May of 2011, I was more than ready to slice it all away.  I big-chopped while visiting my sister in Arizona and never once regretted it.

My natural hair no more than a few months after my summer big chop. One of the best decisions I ever made.

Fast Forward to June 2018

“I think I’m gonna cut my hair.”

I said this aloud as I walked with coworkers from our cafeteria back to the office.

One of my coworkers, a beautiful black woman with her own natural hair in ringlets to her back, turned to stare at me.  “Where’d that come from?”

I thought about it.  Though we had just passed some random person with a pixie cut, the decision seemed to come from a much deeper spot within my core.  Unfortunately, it seemed too existential to explain in the middle of a corporate campus.  “I don’t know,” I said instead, and veered the topic back to standard office gossip.

I’d always told myself that, as I aged, I would probably resume managing my hair in an extremely short style.  I just hadn’t realized that “age” had arrived so much sooner than I’d expected.

After my BC in 2011, I maintained my hair in a super short style for at least 3 years.  In fact, the only reason I started stretching it out was because it started knotting on itself.

penspring_curl_size

It’s been eight years since I started growing out my natural hair.  Over the last 3 years, my hair has refused to grow past my bra strap.  I’ve tried to be patient with it, avoiding direct heat and playing with temporary, veggie-based hair dyes to assuage my desires to creatively mutilate it.  This last year has been especially painful, as I’ve attempted to be dutiful and find the right protective styles that would encourage the long natural hair that I aspired to:

  • At least half an hour to prep it before wash.
  • An hour and a half to wash and deep condition it.
  • Upwards of two hours to style-set it.
  • And then there’s daily maintenance of re-setting it every night before bed.

Long natural curly hair is not just a beauty step.  It’s a beauty lifestyle.

Long Natural Hair = The Ultimate Female Beauty

I think everyone has suffered from a desire to reinvent themselves at least once.  The popularity of fad diets, bold and impossible-in-nature hair colors, and fashion trends are a testimony to that.  People want their outsides to reflect what they currently feel, or how they want to feel.

I’ve always had an idealized mental image of myself.  As a child, it was as the lost Black Sailor Moon (well, Sailor Mars, actually.  She had magic psychic abilities even when she wasn’t in costume).  As an adolescent, it was a cross between USA’s La Femme NikitaBarb Wire,  and The Matrix (aka, a shiny black catsuit-wearing badass).  As an adult, it was a bohemian renaissance woman with sexy face paint, wooden jewelry, harem pants, and an alluring nose piercing.

And do you know what they all had in common?

Long hair.

As I do when I wonder what the rest of the world is thinking (and are they still thinking what I assume they’re thinking), I performed a random Google search to see what is still deemed “beautiful.”

I clicked on two of the top articles.  In the first article, it only took me a second to find the following statement:

The preference for smooth skin and long hair [my emphasis] comes down through the ages with adjectives such as alabaster, milky, and creamy being used when describing someone’s complexion.

(Yes, I could go on and on about the alabaster, milky skin, but let’s save that particular observation for another post, shall we? 🙄)

In the second article, the author covers what different cultures around the world consider beautiful.  I’m going to assume she neglected to note what African cultures consider beautiful because, not only did she forget Africa is in the world, she is also severely limited in experience, research capability, and journalistic non-bias and wouldn’t know where to start with the multiple aspects that make African and African-descended women beautiful…but anyway…

One thing that I did notice before I read her article, were the pictures in her article.  In every single pic, long, thick hair is highlighted.  It’s blowing in the wind.  It’s draped over the model’s shoulder.  The woman is playing with it.  Even if she didn’t say it outright (and yes, she does), it’s obvious what she deemed vital as a part of classic female beauty.

Finding that these results supported my original assumptions, I grew annoyed.

Then, I grew mad.

And, as it usually does when I feel like passively rebelling against the system, it temporarily made me want to re-chop off all my hair down to the very root.

“So I’m only beautiful if I’ve got long, luxurious locks, huh?” I snap, electric razor buzzing in my hand.  “Well, then I bet you’ll love this!”

Of course, shaving my head won’t resolve anything.  Somewhere along the journey into my 30s, my goal stopped being about conforming to European, American, Korean, African, male, ageist aspects of beauty.  Instead, it has because more of…feeling like myself.

Envision It

Below you is the puzzle of your life.  There is a missing puzzle piece that represents how you identify yourself in this crazy world.  You’ve held that puzzle piece in your hand for years.  You know where it goes, but you’ve been working on how to make it fit just right.

You carve a little here, paint a little there.  You turn it this way, that way.  You’re getting close.  Soon, it will fit.

I believe we should all go through life being comfortable in our selves.  The only way we can get comfortable is to listen to what we really want.  That may include getting a tattoo, or a piercing.  It may include wearing corduroy dresses.  Whatever it is, it should make you smile, feel proud to be yourself.

I always wanted long hair because I wanted to be seen as pretty, desirable.  I thought it would make me the ultimate woman.  I was willing to put in the time and the effort to gain those results.

But now, as I expand my passions and meet quality friends and colleagues, I’m realizing that the state of my hair will reflect the happiness I feel naturally.  If I’m happy, my body will show it.  Maybe not with excessive hair growth, but with thickness, vibrancy, and shine.  And I’d certainly rather have short, shiny, healthy locks than thin, straggly, heat-damaged strands dangling down to my butt.

So, if the length sneaks up on my hair, so be it.  But I’m no longer going to seek it out.

Post-haircut. Helll, semi-long natural hair
My hair after cutting it into an actual shape. Not bad, if I do say so.

What look or style makes you, you?  What makes you feel the most like yourself?

One-Mind Unbored Crying Super People Pleaser

(For those of you that are wondering how in the world I thought of that title, just listen to the above song.  Its namesake may not be much of a people pleaser, but hey…it worked. 🙂 )

Some of you  who visited my blog about a week ago may have noticed that I posted an article about how I was relaunching The Mind of B.  Not only was I relaunching it; I was also going to be posting a whopping new blog post on the site each day for 7 days straight!  Nice goal, huh?

Yeah, I thought so, too.

For those of you who visited my blog a few days after that…you may have noticed that post is gone now.  And it won’t be coming back.

Why, you ask?  Understandable question.

My answer?  That crud was hard.

But it wasn’t just hard.  It was a goal that was set for the wrong reasons.

It was my sister and her son who finally made a very notable comment three days into my struggle to complete my third blog article.  “Wow. You are working really hard on your vacation.”

Huh.  “Working hard.”

On my vacation.

The first, and so far only vacation I’ve had all year.

Writing the blog posts were draining me.  Thinking of something new and profound each day was taking hours–hours that I was supposed to be lying around doing nothing, playing video games, doing nothing, hanging with my family, doing nothing, and totally vegging out on Steven Universe marathons (spiffy and shockingly profound show, by the way).  And I was doing that!

Kinda.

So, when my family made that poignant comment, I asked myself:  why am I working so hard on my vacation?

The generic answer my mind came up with:  “Because of my readers!  The ones and ones of readers who have stuck with me all these years!”

Then the cool, calm, badass reality part of my brain peered down over her ultra awesome shades and said, “What readers?”

And the silly part of my brain cried, “Why, the readers that…don’t know who I am and…didn’t ask me to post all these articles and…will flock to me…once they know…I’m posting…again.”

CCBR pushed her shades back up her face.  “Uh huh.  Welcome back to the people pleaser zone.”

Hello. I’m a People Pleaser.

Before I go too far into this post, let me define what a people pleaser is.

According to Psychology Today:

A People Pleaser is one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say “no.”  You can always count on them for a favor.  In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people. They get their work done, help others with their work, make all the plans, and are always there for family members and friends.

Personally, I think they started off too nicely.

A people pleaser is not someone who will occasionally go out of their way to help someone.  A people pleaser is someone who does everything for everyone all the time.

Maybe they do it to make everyone feel better.  Or maybe they do it because they think they can do it better, and won’t the person be grateful for the superior results.  Or, they do it because “it has to get done because no one else can/will do it.”  Or, the person they’re trying to please will be impressed.  Or maybe even like them!

A people pleaser is not only limited to tasks.  She can also be in a bad relationship, stuck in a poorly fitting job, or even hanging out with the wrong crowd, all because she doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.  (Whose feelings?  Who knows!  But someone’s feelings…somewhere.)

Many people pleasers don’t even notice they’re in that pit.  After all, it wasn’t until I was checking my to-do list this morning did I realize that almost everything could be summed up with:

“Oh, I have to do [insert task/activity] for [so-and-so].”

Signs You’re a People Pleaser-aholic

There are many common signs to tell whether you are a people pleaser.  Here are a few of my own:

  • You’ve started to resent the very people you’re trying to please.
  • You’re finding less time and energy to devote to things you love.
  • Considering stopping the people pleasing action fills you with a burst of hope and relief.
  • BUT, you also find yourself thinking, “What will so-and-so think if I stop/quit?”
  • You’re tired a lot.
  • You’re crying a lot.
  • You’re sick a lot.
  • You have less money than you thought you did–because you gave some of it to someone you didn’t think could manage without it.  You know–like a teenager who lives under your roof and isn’t paying rent.
  • You become frustrated when you never get recognition for any of your hard work–even just the tiniest whisper of “Thanks.”

Why Would Someone Become a People Pleaser?

No one strives to become a people pleaser.  As Psychology Today also mentioned, wanting to please people often has a deeper-lying issue than simply wanting to help.

I’ve struggled from identity issues and my self-worth since I was a child.  I come from a very talented, creative family and often felt like my skills weren’t nearly enough to compete for…well…being noticed.  My logic was, “No one notices me being me.  But if I do things for people, they’ll have to acknowledge me.”

Children think very linearly.  If there is no one around who knows the thought process that child has developed, the child may not know whether what they’re thinking is bad, or harmful, or wrong.  As an adult, I wanted to learn to truly love myself.  I was shattered to find the flaws in my childhood logic.

It’s a tough realization to have at any age. It’s an even tougher habit to break.

Why is it Hard to Stop Being a People Pleaser?

Last night, I touched down onto my good ol’ ATL stomping grounds after a week and a half of leaving it all behind.  As I waited for the bus at the MARTA station, I made a mental list of all the things I had to do before the weekend was out.  Some of them made me excited.  Others filled me with dread and a high level of annoyance.  A couple made me tear up.

Guess which category the last two fell in?

And yet, I was still going to prioritize those over the tasks I was doing for myself.

Now, with a full night’s sleep and my head in rollers as I prep to see Hamilton this evening, I’m reviewing the people pleasing list that I’ve inadvertently stacked up over the last several months.  I’m making a candid decision about each item.

As for this blog–I still want to keep it going for now.  But I think I’ll reduce the frequency to once a week for now.  That is much, much more doable.

Despite my persisting fallacies, there is one thing I’ve learned through years of meditation and assessments:

If you’re doing something or are in a situation that is making you feel miserable more often than not, you need to cut that crap out of your life immediately.  No excuses, no exceptions.

In other words:  stop.

Please.