My curls and I have had an interesting nineteen years together. Like any long-term relationship, we've had our ups and downs. From the honeymoon stage to damn near divorce, my curls and I have had a lot to learn from each other. It wasn't easy, and if I'm being honest, it's an ever-evolving process. Despite it all, there are a few things I wish I could travel back in time to tell my younger self about her hair and how to love it.
Adolescence is a time of unease, insecurities, and self-discovery. Sometimes it seems easier to just conform and fit in. And that's exactly what I did. My best friend at the time had long, beautiful, stick-straight hair.
I didn't know how to do my own hair, and most of the time it was a frizzy mess. I begged my mom daily to take me to a stylist who could help me manage my hair. Eventually, she caved, and I got my first relaxer.
Now, if you don't know what a relaxer is, or what it does, imagine this: a thick, white substance that the hairdresser coats your hair in. From there, you let it set in and then the stylist will wash it out. Then it's blow-dried and straightened. After my relaxer, there was no trace of curls on my head.
I continued this cycle every month for four years. My hair was broken, short, and just plain unhealthy. Below is a picture of my hair in seventh grade (also, why did I post this on Facebook?!).
By 8th grade, I was done. I wanted to have thick, full, curly hair. I would fascinate about going natural daily. One day, I went into my mom's room and said the sentence that would redefine the relationship I have with my curls forever...
"I'm doing the big chop".
With support and love and a lot of encouragement, I finally did it. After only three months in, my hair was flourishing! (pictured below)
However, I still had a lot of work to do. I basically had a whole new head of hair, and, like most young women, I was comparing myself to EVERYONE. My natural hair texture wasn't what I'd envisioned it would be, and I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like my hair would never become what I wanted it to be like.
Looking back, I love that young girl with the tiny fro who was brave enough to make a huge change. I wish she would have marveled at the ability of her hair to heal and grow.
More than anything, I wish I could tell her this: embrace the journey and trust the process. Time will bring you everything you want. Years later, you will wish you spent less time hating how you looked and more time enjoying the first years of high school. You won't believe what is to come.