Monday 25 January 2016

What growing my hair out has taught me

For most of my adult life I have had very short hair. Partly because it was easy; partly because I liked standing out in a sea of long-haired girls; but mostly because every attempt of growing it out failed spectacularly.

I would try regularly every 2-3 years, determined to see it through this time. Just as regularly I would give up, sometimes after a couple of months, sometimes after half a year - but I would give up eventually.

Three years ago I once again decided that I would give it a go. I was 33 years old, and had not had long hair since I was a child. I had the sudden feeling that now was my last chance if I ever wanted long hair - if I didn't manage it now, I never would.

After a particularly short pixie cut, I swore to myself that no scissors would come close to my head until I could tie my hair into a ponytail. 
This time, I kept my promise.

And I learnt quite a few surprising lessons along the way:

1. Patience
Nowadays most of us crave instant gratification. Gone are the days when we would have to wait for Christmas and birthdays if we wanted new clothes, books, or toys: Now we simply download music and books in an instant, or order it online to get it the next day. However, there are still things we have to work on and wait for, like losing weight, acquiring a new skill, or letting your hair grow.

2. Tomorrow you will wish you started yesterday
Embarking on a journey that you know will take years can seem so daunting, you may be tempted not to start at all. Trust me, I've been there. But time goes on, no matter what you do. You know how people always go on and on about "how time flies"? That's because it does. A year may seem long on day one, but day 365 will be here before you know it. You will thank yourself later for having started with the first step today!

3. Tenaciousness
There were about a hundred times when I wanted to cut my awkward in-between hair off. At one point it was constantly in my face, being in the way at work, and generally looking very scarecrow-ish. I disliked it immensely, and wanted nothing more than to chop it off.

Can you blame me?
But look how cute my tiny 8-week old Corgi was 

Thankfully, my stubborn streak kicked in. Whenever I was about to waver, a determination I didn't know I had would show up and make me hang in there. Knowing that this tenaciousness exists inside of me has helped me in a several other areas of my life as well!    

4. Visualization 
When you want something that you don't yet have, visualization is a great tool to help you get there. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to hair, and for the growing out phase I pinned long hairstyles frequently. Every time I was close to despair looking at the unruly mess on my head, I would pull out the images of girls whose hair I liked. "This will be me soon", I assured myself, and you know what? It really worked. 

5. Change is good
I had successfully convinced myself that short hair was my "thing". I have always admired women who rock short pixie cuts (still do), because there is something fierce and independent about them. It's so easy to hide behind long hair - literally and figuratively - and taking that protective layer away takes guts.
But in my case, it was the opposite. Short hair was my comfort zone, and stepping out of it was new and uncomfortable for me. There were all these new skills to learn: Straightening, curling, braiding, styling - it was a whole new world! One I had no experience in navigating.
But you know what? Change is fun! And trying out a new look keeps things fresh and exciting.

At the end of the day, hair is just hair. Long, short, grey, rainbow-coloured - whatever you decide to do with yours, have fun with it!
And if you look carefully, you might just pick up a few life lessons along the way like I did. ;-)


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