I can tell from the title alone that you have questions. Hopefully, this post will give you answers. I haven’t said much about this to anyone. In fact, outside of my immediate family, there’s only a handful of people who I mentioned this to. But before I dive right in, let me make the official statement. Dear family, a few weeks ago, I cut my natural hair.
Let me tell you now, I wasn’t expecting the practical life lessons learnt in that moment, and in the days that followed.
January 6th, 2020. Exactly a month and 20 days ago.
For a large part of 2020, I’d been contemplating whether or not I should go short with my natural hair. On that particular evening, I initially had no intention to go short. The plan was: let’s detangle this hair, get this scalp clean, and make sure every strand is well moisturized afterwards. As I got into it the state of my hair at the time, in that moment, began to bother me again. I’ll be honest with you, my natural hair is not what it used to be. It’s not what I’m used to. Over the past year and a half, I haven’t given my crown the care that she deserves. Even during a period when she suffered heat damage.
I’ll be honest and say I only gave her the bare minimum. For a while (with anything in life, really) that may work, but in due time more will be required of you. And when it is, but you don’t rise to the occasion, that deficiency will eventually show.
With my hair fully detangled and put into twists, I proceeded to find a usable scissor in our home. I also went to where my sisters were for moral support. They had heard me complain complain for months, and now that I’d decided it was time, I needed them to back me emotionally so I don’t regret my decision. Long story short, I eventually cut my natural hair. About a 3rd of the length, I let go of. I actually got a little scissor happy and cut off more than I’d intended. But also, I don’t regret it.
June 2019 – My hair at its healthiest.
Semi-stretched out, thick, full, healthy.
Here are the reasons why I cut my natural hair…
For starters, I’d developed an unhealthy attachment to the length of my hair. I come from a family that has been blessed with good genes when it comes to our afro, kinky, textured natural hair. That said, my sisters and I all (at some point) had long, healthy, natural hair (they still do). That was a contributing factor to the attachment, especially because it is not uncommon for our hair lengths and density to be compared. Dare I say, I didn’t want to feel like the odd one out. Especially as the oldest sister who supposedly ‘has had more time to grow her hair’.
Crazy. I know.
Secondly, I was holding on to the past even though the present was damaged. In September of 2019, I did a lot that wasn’t healthy for my hair. Particularly in terms of heat application (straightening often, and blow drying). And so, my hair got heat damaged. Funny thing is, I KNOW that heat damage is irreversible. I guess in a way I was waiting for the healthy hair to grow in before I could cut off what was damaged.
Also, 2020 saw me being really lazy in terms of hair care, partially because of lockdown restrictions. I didn’t do much because I wasn’t going anywhere anyways. Like I said, I really only did the bare minimum when it came to my hair.
Lastly though, and most importantly, it is because of the commitment I made to myself in the last week of 2020. I committed to showing up more intentionally. To being honest with who I am, and who I want to be. To myself, and then to the world around me. A part of that is being honest with where my natural hair is at, being okay with that, and working towards where I want it to be. More so in terms of health and then, as an extension, in terms of length.
This was my hair late last year, fully stretched out. You can see the weak ends (indicated by the “gaps” in my hair). And it wasn’t as thick anymore.
The life lessons I learnt when I cut my natural hair.
As the days progressed, I began to reflect on this part of my natural hair journey. And how what I’m learning is applicable to our everyday lives.
1. Learn to let go once a season has come to an end.
We tend to hold on to past seasons of our lives because of the comfort associated with them. It is easier to hold on to things associated with a past season of our life (whether good or bad) because of the illusion of control that it gives. On the contrary, there is less control in you holding on to it than there is in letting go.
For my hair, cutting it means I no longer have to deal with the inevitable breakage that follows when one has got heat damage.
2. Holding on to the damage does more harm than good.
It’s like slapping a band aid onto an infected wound, hoping it will heal. Not realising that all you have done is given the bacteria an environment to grow and multiply. That instead aggravates the wound rather than giving it the chance to heal.
3. Sometimes, the damage is irreparable. Cut it off, and cultivate what remains.
And by ‘cut it off’ I mean let go of it. That’s where the control is actually at. It may not look that way because you don’t know what life will look like on the other side, since you can only assume. Not knowing makes us feel uncertain. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. We don’t like being uncomfortable. Yet when you focus your attention on what remains rather than what is gone, you leave room for growth. You give what is left the opportunity to flourish.
4. Take care of you – all of you – for you.
From your head to your toes, internally and externally.
Sometimes caring for yourself means making the hard decisions. Decisions that don’t feel the best in the moment, but are necessary for a better tomorrow. A better, healthier, happier you benefits both you and those around you as well.
Who knew cutting hair off would teach us about life, hey?
So, where to from here, you ask?
Well, for starters, I am doing my best to no longer obsess over my hair’s length. As a result, I’ve stopped doing length checks, and I’m learning to both appreciate and enjoy my hair in all its forms. Particularly in its naturally coily state. Because that state forces me to focus less on hair length and more on hair health.
I am so much more committed to hair health this year, and I want to take you along on this journey. That is what our #FroFridays will be about from here on out.
I still have a bit of an itch to cut some more hair off, you know. Whether or not I’ll follow through with that, only God knows.
In the mean time though, let’s grow together. Both in hair, and in heart.
Grace & Peace to you & yours
– Xo, Jo 🌺