Alright folks. After many days and nights of contemplation, I've finally decided to start documenting and posting my natural hair journey. To begin, I recorded a confessional YouTube video just talking about my background and what led me to get my first relaxer. I also talk about what powered my decision to go natural and the different challenges I faced. If you would like to check out my YouTube video, feel free to click here. In this post, I mainly wanted to highlight some of the reasons I decided to go public with my natural hair journey.
My Hair's Background:
As I mentioned in my video, I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian town. I was often the only African-American in my class. So I rarely saw people with my hair type and texture and it sometimes made me think something was wrong with me. Even my mom got frequent relaxers, so I began to conclude that my thick kinky curls were unattractive. I sought to have long, flowing, wavy or straight hair. Eventually, my dad and I convinced my mom to allow me to get a relaxer. My mom was against it because she knew it requires a lot of care and she didn't think I was ready for that responsibility as an 8 year-old. Alas, per usual, she was correct.
I was thrilled when I got my first relaxer and saw how long my hair was when straight. But it still wasn't as long as I desired. Either way, I was happy with it until..... new growth happened. That's when I realized that this initiated a never-ending series of salon trips. Because anyone who has a relaxer knows the struggle of trying to comb through, slick back, or style new growth. Thus began a salon cycle that lasted for about 5 years until I had one dismal experience that sparked my natural hair journey. Long story short, hairdresser gave me a relaxer, left it on way too long, burnt my hair and scalp to the point it hurt to lay down on. That was it for me. I was fed ALL THE WAY UP!
So when I was 13 I made the decision to go back natural. There were numerous factors, but one reason is that my hair felt so thin while I had a relaxer. I wanted more volume whenever I got a Dominican blowout. I was strongly against the Big Chop, so I kept my hair in braids, twists, glue-ins and sew-ins to allow my hair to grow significantly before cutting off all the relaxed ends. One day, the time had finally arrived for me to go fully natural. I got a blow out and a trim and 2 weeks later was my first wash with no relaxer whatsoever. Y'all, lemme tell ya...... big yikes.
I had no concept of how to properly moisturize my hair. No idea how to style it. It was shorter than I wanted it to be. I just felt like my hair and I could never be friends. Thankfully, with a lot of research, time, trials and failures, I have finally come to understand my hair a lot more. I was able to grasp more about my hair type and porosity, what chemicals to avoid in products, and so much more. Now I am ready to share what worked for me and what didn't work so that others can have success in their natural hair journey.
Growing up, I was a shy person and was insecure about my abilities. I often compared myself to others and tried to imitate people that I looked up to. But one thing that I've lacked even now as an adult is self-confidence. Whenever I see people on Instagram who look so bold and confident in themselves, I wonder, why can't I be like that? Why can't I just put myself out there with confidence and not care what people think? I've asked myself similar questions throughout adolescence and it really stems from issues that I never resolved during childhood. I feel like I've always sought approval from others and had a desire to be included. I always wanted to be one of the "popular girls". Evidently, that never happened throughout any period of my school career. But what did happen is I made friends with people from multiple different crowds. Some may call us the outcasts so to speak. But these people were real, kind, and crazy. Some were a little too obnoxious for the in-crowd, maybe a little too rebellious for the goody-two-shoes, and not quite bright enough to vibe with the bookworms.
So immersing myself in these different groups helped me to be flexible with my friendships. My friendships weren't based on something material or academic. They were based on true connections that were established from common interests. These created lasting friendships that didn't completely fizzle out just because we changed schools. Anyway, the older I get, the less I care about what people think. I have a better understanding of what really matters in life and I don't feel like I am constantly in a spotlight being judged and scrutinized by others. There's a certain point in adulthood where you realize that a lot of people "fake it 'til they make it". Everybody has this online façade where it appears that life is good and they have everything under control. But the reality is, most people only share the best parts of their lives and leave the bad parts offline. One day I had the resolution that my life isn't nearly as bad as I act like it is and I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Overtime I began to appreciate the little things life had to offer. As a result, I became content with my life and with my hair. I discovered that it is okay if I don't have pin straight hair or wavy hair. I learned to be happy with what I was given and how fun it can be to nurture and grow your hair. This resulted in a massive confidence boost that I needed years ago. I was no longer living to impress others. I was finally living for myself and doing what brings me joy.
One huge reason that I am sharing my experience is so that I can help those who are struggling with the similar feelings. Even though America is a diverse country, media and entertainment hasn't always represented its population until recently. When I saw commercials and cartoons as a child, I rarely saw ethnic families being depicted or saw minorities as the lead character in the show. So for those who are young and trying to discover who they are, I would like to be a positive role model for them. Often times as a kid, you may have a favorite celebrity that you want to be like when you grow up. But they typically have a lifestyle that can be hard to imitate especially when you're young and inexperienced. My goal is to show young people that you don't have to be a famous celebrity to be happy or successful. Also, you shouldn't have to change yourself to make others happy. At the end of the day, I want to empower people to do what makes them happy--so long as it doesn't harm others of course.
In this age of the internet, spreading knowledge has become easier and easier. You can send information across the world with a couple clicks (or taps). As someone who has personally benefitted from the advancements of technology, I want to give back by doing my share to spread valuable information free of cost. I feel like people who have a desire to learn should be able to do so. I would like to be a trusted avenue and resource for practical information regarding basic self-care, natural remedies, survival preparation, DIYs, and more. I am hoping that through my experiences, I may also be a guide for someone who is also walking down the same path as me.
Well that is all for this confessional post. I feel like a load has been lifted off my chest because I finally shared a little bit of my personal struggles. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this post or tell me about some of your hair care struggles. I'd love to hear what you have to say!