My natural hair journey. *Sighs* Why do I feel like it has been so long? It's crazy that I feel as if I've been natural my whole life, but in reality it's only been about four years.
To describe my journey in six words, my journey has been: beautiful, insightful, stressful, a process, empowering and scary. But I will save you the novel, and simply list what I have learned since going and remaining natural.
why i went natural
1. I've always wanted curly hair.
I always fought my mother when it came to relaxing my hair. I loathed perms. Mainly because they burned and no matter how much in advance I knew about my perm-day, I always scratched my scalp. Causing burning, itching and scabbing. Not to mention a "regular" perm would never really take because of how thick my hair was, resulting in the use of an "extra strength" perm. Which was a no-go. This was more of an indication, that my hair was not meant to be chemically processed. It couldn't conform, just like me *raises fist in the air*
2. My hair was damaged.
Like, super-cali-fragilistic-espi-ali-docios-ly damaged. I thought it was a good idea to bleach half of my hair my senior year of high school and then apply a rinse-dye on top of that. But wait, it gets better. I decided to get weave for my prom, and not a sew-in, but a glue-in. I had the weave tracks glued directly to my scalp. Why?!?
When I took the tracks out, my hair was significantly thinner. And at that time I knew, that I either needed to cut my hair with a perm, or go natural.
3. I was starting college.
I wanted to change my identity. I was already starting a new journey in my life, why not start a new hair journey as well? Not to mention, my university was in a small Missouri town that did not have too many black hair stylists. Going natural was the smarter choice than remaining with a perm.
4. To embrace a healthier lifestyle.
It wasn't until I began to intensely research the natural hair movement that I learned that it could result in an overall healthy lifestyle. I loved watching Youtube gurus that used organic products, and went on healthy-food binges in order to enhance their skin, hair and overall health. I was slowly becoming the organic hipster that I had always aspired to be.
how i transitioned
1. Protective styling.
Weave, weave and weave. Box braids and a sew in. I consistently wore my hair in these protective styles for 10 months.
2. I researched until it was an obsession.
It was borderline an addiction. Everyday after class, I would search for and find new natural hair gurus to stalk on Youtube. Through this, I learned more about transitioning and the big chop. I also learned how to take care of my hair once I big chopped and different styling options.
3. I treated my transitioning hair as completely natural.
Which means I was very careful. I detangled from tip-to-root, deep conditioned, tried out natural hairstyles, protective styles etc. The moment I decided to "go natural"- I was natural.
4. I waited to big chop until I was ready.
Hence, the 10 months. I originally wanted to wait a year, that way, when I did big chop I would have some length- BUT I took my braids down and literally could not comb my hair....
the struggle years (first 2 years)
1. I cried. A lot.
When I first cut my hair. The stylist turned me around to reveal my short hair and there were automatic tears. I reached towards the top of my hair realizing I couldn't put my hair in a ponytail anymore, thinking, What the hell did I just do?
2. There were ugly days (in my opinion).
The nights that I didn't feel like twisting my hair resulted in bad hair days. Sometimes I would wear a hat, sometimes I didn't, but each time I felt inadequate (I'm writing this humorously by the way).
3.I fell in love with my curls.
I realized that my hair was really defined, and could maintain a style for almost a week. I loved my natural black and the sheen that was enhanced with the proper oils and butters, I was in love!
4. I loved my hair short.
I felt more modelesque, and became more comfortable in my skin. I no longer had the option of hiding my abnormally-large forehead behind bangs. I was just me. I had to learn how to accept and embrace my beauty in its entirety.
5.But at the same time I was obsessed with length.
I kept wondering: when is my hair going to touch my shoulders? I wanted to be an advocate for healthy natural hair. You know, the walking testimony that black hair can grow with the proper care. But little did I know, that the moments I stopped obsessing over length, were the moments my grew the most.
6. Styling options were few.
Wash-and-gos did not work well with my texture, so twist-outs and bantu-knot-outs were my main lovers. I couldn't do anything but wear my hair out, occasionally if I wanted to get a little feisty I would pin my hair into a mohawk.
growing pains (second and third year)
1. I learned patience.
My hair journey was just that: MY hair journey. At this time, I knew my curls and what worked best for them; and I tried my best to stay within my journey and out of others. This was also the time that I stopped measuring the growth of my hair, and I just let it do what it wanted to do.
2. My hair became a part of my identity.
When people expected to see me, they expected to see my afro. No one was shocked or intrigued by my hair anymore- and I liked that. It wasn't until I straightened or added extensions, that people would be shocked. My identity and my hair were starting to become one.
3. I loved my hair.
Yep, sure did.
4. I became lazy.
Did I mention that with growth, came thickness? My hair could often times be a hassle. So what would I do? Go to bed without prepping my hair for the next day. At this time I could put my hair in a puff or bun, and that pretty much was my go-to style during my hectic weeks.
5. I became bored with my hair.
I was tired of doing the same hairstyles, with the same results. I needed a change.
the grown years (now)
1. I'm still lazy.
What's a comb? Now I am more likely to seek out new protective style ideas in order to not have to comb my hair. Hehe...laziness at its finest.
2. My curl pattern is confusing.
Super loose in the back and front, thick in the middle. Okay, so maybe it's not that confusing, but it makes my afro look interesting. A good and bad thing for styling options, in my opinion.
3. I know what works for my hair now (kind of).
My hair loves oils, and light styling butters that are water based. I'm no longer a product junkie. I'm always down to try new products that are within the descriptions mentioned before.
4. People are consistently trying to pet my hair.
And I'm no longer allowing it. You can ask, but I'll most likely say no. I'm not a pet, and I'm more comfortable verbalizing that now.
5. I'm still in love.
And you know it's real. Because I will still sit up at 3 am to style, protect or whatever else my hair loves- it's our quality time.
6. I'm indecisive.
And this will probably never change. I wrote a previous post about my condition.
7. I doubt sometimes, but I still believe in growth.
I do because I've seen it happen with my hair. I just have to make sure my hair goals match the maintenance I'm putting into my hair.
8. Who knows what my hair will look like in another four years! But I'm always open to change!
Everything except for a relaxer! lol