Doubting the Journey
The journey and process through natural hair can be the most exciting and exhilarating experience one can have. It can also be the most anxiety driven and overwhelming process that one can deal with. For example, when I first did the big chop, I was excited, ready and thrilled to try something new and really give my hair the best possible experience and care it truly desired. Yet, after 4 months, I was halfway between long and short and the journey became more of a struggle to what I wanted to do with my hair and what I could do with my hair. Soon I found myself regretting my decision and wondering if I was truly ready for the journey ahead. It can be frustrating and difficult to deal with the process and journey that is natural hair, and you’ll find yourself doubting your commitment to it and the potential your hair has. Afros and styles that are protective can really be intimidating; so how does one deal with the stress and fear of truly rocking the gift and amazing potential your hair has? Well, there are a number of ways that you can overcome this fear.
The first thing I had to come to terms with was to acknowledge there was a fear with showing off my hair’s true potential and greatness. An afro can come off as overwhelming to many, including yourself. You have to acknowledge a number of things: you care what people think, you worry about what you’ll look like and that you are afraid of what it means in this society to rock natural hair. I came to realize this when I saw myself in the mirror with an afro- staring at it for the first time was interesting because it wasn’t just relaxed hair that wasn’t brushed, blow dried or straightened, it was a giant ball of curls, texture and fluff. It was my hair. Acknowledging your fears behind why you’re held back to what you can really do with your hair and the journey that follows can be helpful when finding a solution.
So once I acknowledged the issues I was facing, I tried to find ways to beat these fears. I came up with the idea of buying sticky notes to write mini affirmations to myself from various black authors, artists, designers, etc. to embrace the idea of natural and the beauty behind it. This combated the idea that my afro and hair was in any way intimidating or overwhelming. It reversed the idea and turned it into something positive. Finding words from others; including peers, can be calming and comforting to the struggle that you face. I also began to read more books about natural hair. I did a little more research on what it truly meant to have natural hair to in a way, “hype” myself up. This encouraged me the fight to show off natural beauty isn’t an easy one but to stay the course and show off the beauty given to you.
To overcome the struggle of others, this one took more time. This meant being okay and comfortable in your own skin. This meant being okay with you no matter what you change. I still have trouble with this one, yet find myself calming the doubt of my hair via social media and music. Somehow, seeing other women such as myself embrace their natural hair and become activists toward embracing it more in schools, homes and in public, made me feel like it was okay to rock the afro at work or around others. You ultimately have to tell yourself to stop caring about what others think. India Arie is a great musical artist just for this suggestion. She embodies what it is to be beautiful and what it means to truly find love for yourself and within yourself; enough to cast out the doubt and the thoughts and opinions of others.
Finally, I had to stop addressing the stigma of what an afro means in our society. This may seem like building a mountain via mole hole, but a lot of people truly fall back from the beauty of their hair and the desire to showcase more with their hair, all because of how society dictates our hair. In schools, outside, at work, everyone feels the need to have a say and rules to how our hair should be. For me, I had to put on a confident front against those who felt my hair wasn’t appropriate for the world, and I began to surround myself with support for my hair and who I was. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who embrace and worry about their natural hair, really builds a front to those who don’t understand it and lets them know that your hair is okay in this day and age, and that it’s something to be accepted.
Your hair is a powerful and beautiful tool of showcasing who you are. When you acknowledge your hair as something amazing and beautiful, find tools within social media, music, supporters, and affirmations to remind you that the doubt is okay but you can do it, and truly be a front and ambassador to those who don’t understand your afro, you become more confident in who you are and the doubt in the journey you take with your natural hair soon becomes smaller and less apparent. Soon enough, it begins to disappear.