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 43- You’re gonna grow it back now right?

Truthfully, I don’t know yet. I can definitely see myself growing it long and shaving it for charity for the rest of my life, but whether I’m going to keep it short for a while now, I haven’t decided yet. I’m just going to roll with it for a bit.

What I love now though, is that when I look in the mirror, I see so much more than what is there staring back at me. I don’t just see a reflection like Mulan, because I know that the way I look is not who I am. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see someone whose confidence and ability to love has grown exponentially over the last few weeks. I see someone who has started questioning why we think in the way that we do, and looking into why these thought processes need to be changed. I see someone who is free, and pursuing a life where she tries not judge others and tries not to mind when others judge her. I see someone who is working towards total contentment. I see a feminine young woman. I see more of myself than I have ever seen before.

I’ve learnt to accept compliments, and ignore insults, but to not put too much weight into either because ultimately the way that we look genuinely does not matter. The way we feel affects the way we look, and the way that we feel is just so much more important. And right now, I can honestly say that I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.

I shaved my head for me. I shaved my head so that I could learn about where my self-worth lies and how I define myself. I shaved my head so that I could learn to depend on God. Today, right now, I feel that I have definitely been successful in all of these things, and at the moment I love my shaved head because it reminds me of this every single day.

Day 43- You’re gonna grow it back now right?

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 17- Judgement

Judgement comes so easily. It’s so much easier to judge someone and move on, than to bother thinking about who that person is and what their story might be. I’ve realised that even assuming that people are judging me, is me judging them for being judgemental. Judgement dehumanises myself and others. It places me on a pedestal, and others below me, leaving me with a warped view of humanity. Judgement based on worthless differences, PARTICULARLY about the way that we look, are the root cause of so many problems in this world.

I have never really felt like I was on the outside of anything. If anything, due to my upbringing, I’ve always been a kind of chameleon who is able to morph until I fit in anywhere. Thus, the feeling that of being an “outsider” because of my “different” hair has been completely new for me (even if it was just a perceived difference and outside-ness). Feeling this has made me realise that it’s just as easy to judge from the outside looking in, as it is from the inside looking out. It’s a lot easier to be defensive when you feel different, ready to pounce on anyone who you have perceived to have judged you. Or in my case, ready to explain that this isn’t really my hair, I don’t usually look like this and hey, it was for a good cause I promise! But people aren’t judging me, and even if they are, does that mean that I should therefore judge them? As the old saying (that my dad was always so fond of telling my brother when we were fighting) goes- two wrongs don’t make a right.  The cycle of judgement that I so swiftly created for myself is completely ridiculous.

I realised that rather than being defensive or ready to judge back, I should be focusing on being loving. I don’t need to justify the way I look, because in justifying it I am acknowledging the judgement. I need to focus on being loving and engaging in conversations about how awesome it is that we all look different. Focusing on love automatically makes me less judgemental, and makes me assume the best of people rather than the worst.

I genuinely feel that I’m already less judgemental and more welcoming. I’m more open and attentive to what people have to say, rather than approaching conversations with me pre-conceived judgements. I once read about a person who didn’t overlook the differences in people, but that he just didn’t know that they were there. Imagine what a blessing that is. That’s what I aspire to. To be so incredibly loving, that I don’t even see the differences between people, I just see everyone as another person with whom to share my love.

 

Day 17- Judgement