Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going Natural is Working for Me

My last relaxer was disastrous. It burned my scalp in one large area that wept for three days. My mother said that was the price of beauty and at that point, warm water rushing over an oozing chemical burn I realize that kind of beauty? So. Not. Worth it. So I've been transitioning to natural hair for about a month and I've noticed a few things, not only about myself but those around me.

1) I needed a routine. I'm not fond of doing the same thing all the time. I dislike schedules. I don't usually plan to do things, I just feel the need to do them and do them. That's not going to work with natural hair. Natural hair needs time. Natural hair needs a set of rules and routines for it to grow healthy and strong. While realizing this I realized life was similar. Life needs structure, and just because I want it to just be free-flowing and what not doesn't make it so and doesn't make it healthy. So in that vein I've started planning more and sticking to a routine. It's tough because I'm lazy because I've never had to stick to anything before and now, for my health all around, I have to.

2) Not everybody understands why I'm doing it. My grandmother on my father's side, Nana, has been straightening my hair for as long as I can remember; she thinks I'm doing it to ward off people. My Gram thinks it's awesome and that I'm doing it to be trendy. My Dad doesn't really care why I'm doing it, he just doesn't want it to cost much. The reason I'm doing it is because I feel like the real me is in there. The real me is hiding in the curly-kinky-coily roots that are now growing naturally from my scalp as God intended. That's amazing. It's incredible. To think that I've never felt my natural texture until a few weeks ago and now I can't keep my hands out of it. I'm doing it for me.

3) The natural hair care blogs are saying it's a "journey" and a "trial" and all these other phrases...not quite. In my mind all those things denote struggle and strife and a world chocked full of people who don't understand. I have a support system who knows that I'm doing this and are behind me. I have a blast doing things for my hair and learning new things about it. Going natural is like anything else in life; you just have to jump in it with faith and a good spirit and hope everything turns out fine in the end.

4) The looks are different. I'm only at an inch or so of natural and five or so inches of relaxed ends. The looks I get from people now are they're actually noticing me (hair first, eyes, boobs, then back to hair). As a perpetual wall flower I'm not used to being noticed so often so I get a little paranoid and wondering if people are having Don Imus monologues about me and my hair in their heads. I have to tell myself that it's time I was noticed and that it's time I became a person and not an ornament in a room. Plus, most likely nobody's thinking that exact thing; they're most likely saying "Wow, she's reading and walking at the same time, that's tough!"

5) It makes you want to be better. Personally, I'm always content with just being "above average." I've been that way since maybe middle school when I noticed that knowledge and learning was easier for me. I could coast and get above average grades. I could coast and be above average socially. I could coast on life and nobody would be any the wiser. That was a cop out. Now I feel so socially inept sometimes that I just stay in my room and read. There are times now when my college work gets hard and I freak out because I never learned how to effectively study and fight for the grades I got. I started going natural a month ago and since then, my grades are better. I'm trying to find friends here in this do-nothing city. I'm trying to be better than I am. I think that had I just continued straightening I would've just gotten deeper into the depression of coasting. Coasting doesn't give you options, it limits them, just like, in my opinion, being relaxed limited my hair's potential.

I'm not saying this is the norm for everyone. Some women go natural and relaxed in cycles, some women chop off all their hair and cry into their pillows at night. Some women get so many chemical burns on their scalp that over time, the hair won't grow anymore. I'm doing this for me. I'm doing this to better myself. I'm doing this, even in the face of my own fears of inadequacy. I'm doing this.

Does fear of being different hinder us in the long run or protect us? Do feelings of inadequacy ever get validated outside of ourselves or is it primarily us that set up these limitations?

1 comment:

AtypicalLibrarian said...

I hate I missed this last week. I'm going natural and I can't stand when people act like it's this big "thing." It's not a journey or a process, it's my freaking hair and what I've decided to do (or not do) with it right now. Good luck to you. I recently cut the last inch or so of my relaxer out and my hair hits my shoulders (SL in the natural blog world) when it's pressed.

Fear of being different has never hindered me. I guess it's because I've always been the resident "different" one in my family. My cousins are always shocked when they realize how alike we actually are. The second question is a toughie and I'd hate for my response to be longer than the post so I'll pass. Nice job as always. :)

I actually like it better when it's kinky, curly, crazy and wild because it reflects more of what my real personality is and not the one that I've been pigeon-holed into. I remember getting hit on the first time with un-straightened hair.