Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hair Today

As you are aware, I shaved my head about three months ago. I gave my hair to locks of love. It was a strange experience to be navigating through the world without hair. For the majority of the first two months, hats became my dearest friends. We went everywhere together. I didn’t leave my house without a hat. Within my house, I had established with my housemates that I wouldn’t wear my hat. They were extremely accepting and I was grateful. Throughout the day, I yearned for the time when I could walk through the door of my house and whip my hat off my head.

Wearing a hat daily was a struggle. On an extremely shallow level, sometimes my hats would not match my outfits. Then, I would deeply desire to have my mop of brown hair back so that I could not have to match my head covering to my outfit. Other days, I just was tired of hiding. All of my close friends were aware of my lack of hair, but many people didn’t even realize that I didn’t have hair. I covered my head because I didn’t want to shock people. I covered my head out of respect for my mother. I covered my head because it was cold outside. At the same time, I felt as though I was trying to hide who I was with my hat. To whip it off my head at the end of the day was like screaming the declaration of freedom. I wanted people to see me for who I was and still accept me.

When I cut my hair off, it caused a lot of confusion. I was confused. Significant people in my life were confused. It was a mess. Yet, I knew that I had followed through with a decision that I felt strongly about doing. That first month, I was very confused and hurt. I mismanaged situations and hadn’t treated some people in the way that I should. One could say that I withdrew into the safe arms of my college friends who are much more accepting of the strange and the odd. I did. I stopped writing my college chronicles because the uppermost subject on my mind was my hair. My lack of hair had become like sensitive information. Of course, these friends of mine are not your ordinary suburban-grown adults. They chose to look past my hair. That taught me a lot. Number one: Communication is important and make sure you communicate overly much so that all aspects are covered so no one gets surprised. Number two: Judgments based on appearance are a no-go (although I find myself still having problems with this.) Number three: Just because all past cases have turned out badly – does not mean that this is the rule. Number four: Short hair is like a dream to care for. I am sorry for all the confusion that was caused in the lives of the people close to me. Yet, I am extremely thankful for the learning that I continue to gain. Hopefully, we will continue to learn together.

Without hair, I was extremely vulnerable. I had lost some of my identity. There is a reason that the Bible calls a woman’s hair her “crowning glory.” I felt ugly all the time. I thought that I would stop caring about my appearance so much if I didn’t have any hair. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found that I cared more deeply. I was embarrassed to take my hat off in front of even my close friends. I think some of that may have stemmed from some initial reactions that occurred within the hour after I shaved my head. To take my hat off was to bare not only my head but my heart as well. I was opening myself up to rejection. I have experienced rejection before and it is one of my least favorite feelings.

One evening about a week or two into the second semester of school, all of my friends came over to my house for a movie. The guys and the girls came. Up to this point only one boy had seen my shaved head and that had been by accident because he was my roommate’s boyfriend. I had answered the door expecting someone else. I was struggling with feeling attractive. I didn’t know how I would be able to face my guy friends with a shaved head. I was petrified. As I stood in front of the sink, washing the dishes, I turned to my dear friend, Alicia, and said, “I want to put a hat on, but I don’t think that I should.” After much discussion, we agreed that it would be more awkward for me to put a hat on especially since I had established that within my house I would not wear a hat. When they arrived, I was still in the kitchen washing dishes. One of the boys walked in the kitchen and then promptly left when he saw me. I read that as a type of rejection. (I was wrong about that as I found out later that he simply wanted to allow me to come out when I was ready.) When I did finish washing the dishes, I stood by the sink for long minutes telling myself to breath. I couldn’t do this. I wanted to hide in the refrigerator for the rest of the evening. Finally, I walked out to them and I didn’t breath. I turned bright red, felt ugly, and felt like a freak. No one acknowledged my lack of hair. I bolted. I ran upstairs to find my hat. I could not take this. Well, Alicia intercepted me. She helped me to determine that I needed to lose that hat. Eventually, my hair became the center of attention and life moved on. Guess what. My guy friends are still friends with me and they have even petted my head a couple of times.

That experience helped to instill some confidence back into my life. I still felt like an alien and an ugly duckling next to all these beautiful college girls. Yet, I was overwhelmed by all the people that God continually placed in my life to repeatedly tell me, “You are beautiful.” I was thoroughly overwhelmed and wondered at it. Yet, someone pointed out, “When someone compliments you, they are complimenting God.” It was a light bulb moment. Yet, He knew that I needed to hear these compliments from all these different people. Not only did friends tell me, but also acquaintances and even random people in malls and stores. That always threw me for a loop. God just stood right next to me. Of course, this is all still a hair rising experience and I have found that my hair is growing on me. My growth does not end here. It has only begun.