My Friend, My Self

Written by Angela Atkinson

My hair has been almost literally every color that occurs in nature, and even a few that probably don’t. The first time I ever colored it was in high school. This boy I was dating mentioned that he had a thing for red heads, and after much soul searching, I was certain that I needed to be a red head.

Well, it was the beginning of a long love hate relationship with my hair. See, my hair is naturally curly and dark brown. But, with the exception of the late 80’s and early 90’s, curly hair hasn’t been my friend fashion-wise through the years. (I could really get the mall bangs going on back in the day, though. My friends had to get perms…not me. Just half a can of Aqua Net.)

So, I’ve bleached it, colored it, pressed it, curled it, fried it. I’ve done just about anything and almost everything I could through the years to make my hair fit the standard idea of beauty. Of course, it never worked fully, and even if it appeared nice when I was out, the truth was it was damaged beyond repair and getting worse each time I processed it.

During my first two pregnancies, I did not color it. My roots grew out but my hair would feel healthier after each one. Shortly before I got pregnant with my daughter, I noticed my hair was desperately in need of a break, so I colored it dark brown again. (It might also have had to do with the failed attempt to go red after a long period of bleach blonde, I admit.)

Getting pregnant made the chemical break a bit longer than expected, and after I gave birth, I tried to go red again. It worked out okay, except that the color wasn’t even. But I digress.

One day it occurred to me that my daughter is likely to end up a brunette with naturally curly locks (if history is any indication–this trend goes back several generations in my family, and my boys seem to be following the pattern.) And then, I thought about the fact that she would see me, with naturally curly, naturally brown hair–doing everything I could to avoid looking like me–and like her.

That was a huge wake up call. The next day, I got online and did some research on how to take care of curly hair. I found an entire movement of curly haired girls, taking back their curls. I was immediately hooked, and now I’m proudly curly, and proudly brunette (although I cannot promise I won’t dye out any gray that pops up). Now, I notice that the dark hair compliments my skin and makes my green eyes pop better than any other color I’ve tried. I notice my hair getting healthier and more attractive by the day.

Ok, I’m going to stop boring you with stories of my hair, but here’s the point I’m trying to make.

When I finally decided to love my hair for what it is, and nurture it for its’ true nature, I was finally able to notice the natural beauty it carries, the unique and non stereotypical beauty. I was able to truly accept my hair for what it was.

As my hair goes, so does life. Don’t laugh, it’s true. There must be some quality about yourself that you’re always trying to change, something you aren’t thrilled about. What I’ve learned on this journey is that self acceptance is key to happiness. That is, that once you accept yourself for who you truly are, on a base level, for those things that are unchangeable, non-negotiable about you–and learn to love yourself for who you are–you can have what you want in life. You can figure out your passions and pursue them. You can capture the happiness that has eluded you before.

And once this self acceptance occurs, like the hair acceptance, you will begin to notice that nurturing yourself well (as the hair was nurtured) will help you to recognize that you, the real and honest you, are beautiful, just as you are.

So, the challenge of the day is this: do something sweet for yourself. Take care of you, just a little bit, and nurture your true self. If you love movies, rent a DVD tonight. If you’re a naturist, get out for a walk or a drive. Do whatever you need to in order to recognize and embrace your true nature. Doing so can only help to increase your self awareness and your inner balance–and you know what comes next. Happiness. Contentment. Self-love, and love for others.

Try it, you’ll like it!
Learn it, live it, love it!

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