A few years ago India.Aire had that song, “I am not my hair,” remember? I remember it and I was humming it to myself as I rubbed oil across my palms. Rosemary. I remember when I first decided that being “natural” really didn’t mean much to me if I was going to press the hell out of my kinks every chance I got. So for Lent 2009, I gave up my blessed Chi iron. I had no clue what I was doing and had no idea how to maintain or nourish my natural hair. I was 24 years old and learning how to manage my real hair for the first time and all I had was rosemary oil.
Last October I chopped my hair all off in the shower one day. I just remember thinking it had to go. Afterwards I remember feeling free. Its taken until this afternoon for me to get to a place of knowing and competence with my hair and as I hummed and twirled my oiled fingers around my hair I realized that I was here again but completely different.
I was talking to Lanee’ yesterday about women and specifically women looking for themselves in the external. In men, in clothes, in make-up, and in hair. I am guilty of it myself, I explained to her. I play with hair and with fashion looking to feel on the outside the way that I feel on the inside. “Who do I want to be today?” It’s a lack of a sense of self, really. I thought to myself this morning as I brushed “my” hair out, sometimes this gets in the way.
And sometimes it does. Sometimes all the extra noise just gets in the way of who we really are and what we really want. What. Do. You. Want? I had a friend ask me today to make a list of short and long term goals. I told her, graduate and save Black america, respectively. She told me to really think about it and get back to her and I thought about the proposition. Here I was being asked essentially the same question I’d asked myself this morning while getting ready in the mirror. Who are you and what do you want?
The thing is, I know myself. I know myself and even when I experiment with blonde hair, long hair, curly hair, short hair, straight hair, red hair, or whatever type of hair I come home and I take it off. It is just a purse, or shoes, or a dress…it’s an accessory to me. And yet, I am surely not foolish enough to believe that those things are just things. Of course I assign meaning to them. Of course I attribute the meaning of the things to the meaning of me. I am not above it.
But what I can say, with absolute certainty is that I am *not* my hair. I am not my cute, colorful outfits that I love to wear. And even though I have no intention of giving up my clothes or my accessories, I think its good remind myself that I am more than those things. I am more than “things”.
And when it comes to men…
God…I mean I used to live for the approval of men. Namely my dad. When it wasn’t him it was RKB, or a boyfriend. It was like once I got the idea in my head that I was somehow unworthy of love, I was a black hole when it came to affection. Nothing was ever enough, and nothing was ever going to BE enough. Because happiness is an inside job. I had to believe it myself.
Perhaps the greatest things that could have ever happened to me was my dad not letting me keep all the “stuff” and me having to fend for myself. Perhaps it was a blessing that RKB and I got into that horrible fight and I had to move home in 2008. Even when I think back to the depression and the sheer lack of a will to live, I can see the blessing that SURVIVING those experiences have been. In the light, my darkest moments made me realize all that I know I am today.
For the longest time I feared stepping into the sun because of the attention in might cause. I did not want attention, I was so…turned off by it that and if I’m keeping it 100 I felt so unworthy of it. Maybe if I looked a certain way, dressed a certain way, had a certain crowd then maybe…and I know I’ve said it before but I have to KEEP saying it. To myself, to others, to anyone who will dare to listen to me. I am, we are, amazingly capable beings who can accomplish ALL things. Imagination is the blueprint. Are we audacious enough to construct our heart’s desires? I want to be. At least I can say for sure that every day I work to become her. And that’s the story hair can’t tell.