Day 45- The Last One

Easter Sunday is tomorrow, the day when we rejoice the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and celebrate forgiveness. The day that Lent finishes. But I know that my journey does not end with Lent. I have learnt so much over the last 45 days. There have been good days and there have been bad days, but I suppose that’s the point. You need the bad days to appreciate the good ones, and when the bad days get too much, that’s when you need to ask for help.

I have learnt that when you have a buzzcut, it is of paramount importance to only use a tiny bit of shampoo, otherwise the suds get in your eyes and it stings SO MUCH. I have learnt that a dramatic haircut can leave you feeling constantly cold, especially if you happen to live on the fringe of the Arctic circle and it’s the middle of winter (dipstick.). I have learnt that humans are extremely tactile, and love to touch new hair. And that short hair is INCREDIBLY easy (I’m talking 1 minute to wash and dry your hair people!). I have also learnt that what my body can do is so much more important than what it looks like.

I have learnt how many associations society has with certain hairstyles, and how damaging it is that we have those associations. I have learnt that as a woman, society has forced upon me a very strange relationship with hair, and that I needed to breakdown this relationship and start again by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I have learnt that perfection is a dangerous, unfair concept, and that Jesus was the only perfect human. And that being gracious matters more than being graceful.

I have learnt that the majority of the time when I feel judged, it’s all in my head because I project my negativity. I need to stop judging people in order to stop feeling judged. I have learnt that contentment and love is the key to all of this, and that it is our differences that unite us as humanity. This unity and love has shown me that I can depend on people, and that they fuel my own love and strength.

Most importantly, I have learnt that I am more than just my hair. My worth does not lie in what I look like. I have more self-confidence and strength than I could ever have imagined. My worth lies in the fact that God loved me so much that He died for me. That’s amazing. And that fact leaves me with a never-ending capacity to love, and an assured hope that He has a plan so there is nothing to be afraid of.

I suppose I kind of already knew all of this one some level really. It just required some reflection, thought and a bit of an extreme change to realise that I knew it.

So there we have it. That’s the story of the year that I gave up my hair for Lent. I’m kind of worried now though, because how will my next Lenten sacrifice EVER live up to this?!

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Day 45- The Last One

Day 41- Fear

When I think back to deciding to cut my hair, fear was the thing that would have held me back. Fear of what people would think, fear of what I would look like, fear of how I would feel. Cutting my hair has helped me to let go of my fear for four reasons:

  1. People are generally nicer than we think or give them credit for. The media wants us to believe that “catty women” and “spiteful men” are always tearing each other down, and I’m not naive enough to think that this doesn’t happen. However, this is NOT the rule. If I assume judgement and unkindness, these things become true for me and how I interpret others’ actions, and thus can even become self-fulfilling prophecies. However, if I assume love, kindness and acceptance of others, then I approach people differently and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. People are going to make assumptions of me based on how I look, and that’s ok, because I make assumptions of people too. But I need to work to breakdown my assumptions, and that will in turn help others breakdown their assumptions. I know that these assumptions aren’t true, and I have become confident and secure enough with how I look that I don’t mind if people make assumptions because they don’t define me. How I feel affects how I look, but how I look should not affect how I feel, because how I look (and the length of my hair) does not change who I am.
  3. Not many people know this, but I suffered from depression a few years ago. I underwent treatment, and made it through. But I was TERRIFIED that shaving my head might send me back there. It hasn’t. Yes, there were bad days, but the good days far outweighed them. And more importantly, I made it through those bad days. It has proven to me that it is definitely possible to beat depression, and that I don’t need to live my life in fear of it, because if it does come back, I can make it through again.
  4. I have an amazing network of people and a phenomenal God on who I can totally, entirely and utterly depend. I am not on my own because I am loved and because I love.
Day 41- Fear

Day 34- Comfort Zone

Everyone deserves comfort in their lives. But there is definitely a difference between having comfort and being comfortable. I think that being too comfortable is when the trouble starts, because it makes me lazy (or indifferent as the Pope put it).

When I’m too comfortable in the house, I don’t mind the  dirty plates and dusty carpets, and they are more likely to stay that way. When I’m too comfortable in my prayer, I continue to pray the same mundane things, and thus not actually say or achieve anything new in my relationship with God. When I was too comfortable with my hair, I wasn’t pushing myself to ask why I had certain perceptions or associations, and I certainly wasn’t challenging myself to become less jealous or judgemental.

Mostly, I think that when I get too comfortable, I stop reflecting, and reflection is definitely a key part of personal growth. I stop thinking about others when I’m too comfortable because I’m doing just fine, and so I forget that other people might not be. Reflection isn’t celebrated to the extent that it should be in my society, that’s definitely something that I’ve realised.

Being uncomfortable all of the time, as I was for at least the first two weeks after the chop, really forced me to reflect and think. That’s why I had so much motivation at the start of this blog, when I was so full of new insights and ideas. But that motivation has decreased as I have become more comfortable with my haircut, and thus have reflected less. This isn’t a bad thing, because I am definitely a more loving, less judgemental person now than I was before. But I need to be sure to not get too comfortable, so that I don’t go back to being indifferent in the issues that I have raised and learnt about over the last month.

In order to strive to be the best possible, most loving version of myself, I need to push myself and my boundaries, and make sure that I am not too comfortable . I need to challenge myself, others and society to be as loving as possible, because there is definitely enough hatred in the world already. And on the days when I don’t want to do these things, I need to remember that it’s ok to take a day off, because everything is in God’s hands. But it’s when the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, that I need to start to look for, and pray for, ways out of my comfort zone again.

Day 34- Comfort Zone

Day 25- Have we got it all backwards?

I recently watched a TV show about how much young adults spend on their looks. Part of the show focuses on hair, which is the fastest growing and most lucrative industry in the part of the U.K. that the show focused on. And the amount of money that people were spending on their hair was entirely extraordinary to me. Now that’s fine, it’s their money and they are entitled to spend it how they wish. Also anything that’s bringing jobs and providing happiness must be a good thing.

However, a lot of the focus was on how different hairstyles made people feel. And I can’t help but think that the reason these hairstyles make people feel different, is because of the associations that society has placed on different hairstyles. If society didn’t place these associations and connections on different hairstyles, then people would simply wear a hairstyle that they enjoy and feels comfortable for them (that’s not to say that people aren’t necessarily already doing this, but one of the people in the show commented on how uncomfortable their extensions were).

Hair shouldn’t change the way we feel. But it does because of these associations. Surely, how we feel and where we are in life should affect the hair we want at that point in time. I mean I definitely know now that if I ever get the chance to go back to living in a tent in the bush, my head is being shaved again. It’s just so practical!

My hair was simply a tool for the personal change that I have experienced, and that change has occurred because I have been fighting to breakdown my stereotypes and assumptions. It’s not because of the hairstyle in and of itself at all. It’s because I’ve learnt how much God loves me, how much I have the ability to love others, and how much I need to love others so stop judging and breakdown these associations.

Have we got it backwards? I’m starting to think that we might…

Day 25- Have we got it all backwards?

Day 22- Self-Consciousness

When I was 12 years old, two boys noticed the three fuzzy moles on the side of my face. They then proceeded to call me “moley, moley, moley” for the next few weeks of my life.

These moles were something that I had never thought about until they were pointed out to me. And since, they have become the thing that I am probably the most self-conscious about on my body. I have done extensive research over the years into getting them removed, and the only thing that has stopped me is the worry that a scar will look even worse.

When I initially thought about cutting my hair, it was the idea of having these moles on show that really terrified me. Ultimately, I knew that my hair would grow back. But I knew that there would be no hiding the moles if my hair was gone. The night before I went to get my hair cut it was this worry that kept me awake.

So when my friends who were visiting this weekend asked if having more of my face on show had made me more self-conscious, I was surprised when I answered no. I realised that I had definitely not thought about my moles, or my face for that matter, any more than I would consider normal. That realisation has been an incredible one. It proves to me that my self-confidence has clearly already grown, and that self-consciousness can be overcome. That is amazing. Stepping outside of my comfort zone has proved to me that I am stronger than I realised, and that I am capable of personal growth. It has made this whole journey worth it already. In learning to judge others less, I have learnt to judge myself less.

I am self-conscious about so much, including the fact that I’m a Christian. I’m self-conscious because I know that people will approach me with assumptions about what that means, similar to the assumption that I have talked about being associated with hair.  But I think that the key to not being self-conscious is closely linked to the key of not being jealous-contentment. Contentment with how I look, contentment with how I’m perceived though working to break down my own assumptions of others, and assurance in what I believe.

I am complete in God, I have nothing to be self-conscious about.

Day 22- Self-Consciousness

Day 21- Jealousy

Today I saw a girl with really, really long hair. And I didn’t experience the pang of jealousy that I normally would. I wasn’t envious, I didn’t covet her hair and I didn’t feel inferior. Instead, I simply thought “Wow, what lovely hair she has”.

It was honestly really incredible. It was so freeing being able to admire hair, without the negative feelings that I often associate with that admiration. To simply appreciate.

Jealousy truly is a feeling that turns what should be a positive interaction, into a negative one. And it happens so easily. It’s also extremely easy to slip from admiration into jealousy- especially in the society that I live where we are constantly being bombarded with the idea that we cannot be satisfied because someone else has it better (#goals, anyone?). Admiration is loving, but there is nothing at all loving about jealousy.

Having this interaction today has made me want to strive to for contentment in every aspect of my life. That’s not to say that I shouldn’t want to improve different parts of my life, but that I need to learn to be content because otherwise how will I know when they have improved enough, and how will I know if I am improving them for the right reasons?In striving to not be jealous, I am hopefully striving to be more loving.

Ultimately, I need to remember every single day that God provides everything that I will ever need and He is where my satisfaction lies. He loves me more than I can imagine. What more could I possibly want? What is left for me to be jealous of?

 

Day 21- Jealousy

Day 16-The root of hair jealousy

Since Fuller House gets released on Netflix tomorrow, I recently decided to have a marathon of watching Full House. Full House was on TV ALL the time when I was younger (specifically on the “Series Channel” which only seemed to play Full House, Cheers and Seinfeld, am I right people who grew up with DSTV?).

I digress.

Since beginning this marathon, I have realised that the DJ Tanner, the oldest daughter of the Tanner bunch, WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY OBSESSION WITH LONG HAIR.

FULL HOUSE

I mean, look at those curls! What 7 year old could resist?!

I distinctly remember being INSANELY jealous of DJ’s hair, and vowing to one day have hair that long. This definitely then led into all of the associations that I made with long hair, and thus all the associations that I made with myself when I finally had long hair.

I once heard that if you want to fix something, you have to take it apart and figure out which bits are important. Over the last 2 weeks, getting rid of my hair has definitely been the start of “fixing” me- my perception of myself and other people, and my relationship with God. Finding where my obsession started definitely feels like a massive step in the right direction of taking myself apart.

It seems a bit silly, being jealous of a TV show character’s hair (ESPECIALLY one thats about 12 years my junior now!). I can finally appreciate DJ for her character- she was the kindest Tanner kid, always willing to help out when possible and always humble about her achievements. DJ was so much more than her hair, and so am I. I’m definitely getting to a place where I appreciate me for me, no matter what my hair looks like.

And that’s exciting.

Day 16-The root of hair jealousy