Photo by Robert S. Donovan
...going natural :-)
Now obviously, I've done things that carry more weight in the grand scheme of life than having natural hair, but I'm consistently inspired by my own natural hair journey particularly because there were clear, concrete steps I took to reach "hair success" that I often refer to when trying to accomplish something else. Going natural taught me to:
1. Beginning with the end in mind. Even though this bit of wisdom came from Yogi Bear, it's so true: "If you don't know where you're going, you might end up somewhere else!" I still vividly remember being 15 and seeing a full page picture in my Teen Magazine of this black model with the most beautiful, coily, kinky 'fro ever! I immediately tore the page out, ran downstairs to the kitchen, and frantically asked my mom one simple question—"Before I had a perm, do you think my hair texture looked like this?" Startled by both the randomness and the immediacy behind my inquiry, my mom answered with a puzzled, "Uh, yeah, I guess..." and the rest is history. That was all I needed and 6 years later, my hair is actually quite similar in texture and style to the picture that inspired me years ago. I had saw what my "success" would look before I even embarked on the journey, and I received confirmation that my "end" was in fact feasible. To accomplish anything in life, we have to know what the end looks like before we even start while never keeping our eyes off of the finish line
2. Research. Prior to going natural, I was a regular black girl with a standing, biweekly appointment at the local JCPenney hair salon. I would walk in with itchy, week old hair and walk out with the silkiest "wrap" a hoodied dryer and Motion's Foaming Set Lotion could provide. Needless to say, I didn't know much about my hair seeing as I rarely did it myself. Not one to be easily discouraged, however, it took all of maybe one month and an absurd number of hours spent in front of Google for me to become my own hair expert. Whether you're going natural or losing 50 pounds, research is crucial to meeting your goal successfully—you must become your own expert, as no one can reach your goal for you.
3. Identify and maximize your capabilities. Looking back on my natural hair care journey, I'm most proud of the fact that I did it with the meager resources I had as a 15 year old. I had school and a part-time job at the dry cleaners up the street, so under no circumstances could I afford (nor did I have the time) to see a stylist regularly, pay for elaborate sew-ins, or purchase expensive hair treatments just to transition out of my relaxer. What I could do as a 15 year old, however, was study natural hair in the same manner that I studied for school and perfect the art of "do-it-yourself" since I was young and able, which is exactly what I did. Sometimes we look at the things we cannot do and get discouraged about our goals when really, we should identify that things we can do and work the crap out of them.
4. Surround yourself with inspiration. Part of the reason I spent so much time in front of the computer was because the internet was really the only place I could see pictures and read inspiring stories about natural hair. Whether it's pictures torn from magazines, articles bookmarked online, or actual people in your life, you absolutely have to surround yourself with inspiration to remind you of why you're working towards your goal to begin with.
5. Follow through. To be honest, my natural hair journey wasn't too bad for about six months. For the most part, I treated my hair as if I were stretching a relaxer and kept it pressed. Then the summer came leaving my hair perpetually sweated out and stuff really hit the fan. I wanted to go back to a relaxer SO bad, but kept in mind how big of a waste all my work up to this point would be if I didn't stick it out. If you commit to achieving something, then really commit and follow through to the very end. If you quit working towards your goal at the first sign of trouble, then you'll never get anywhere.
6. Enjoy your success... I loved my hair when it was finally all natural and I still do to this day. I was so excited when first going natural that I wore it in all sorts of natural hair styles, showcasing all of my hard work. It's important to really bask in the end result of your hard work because, well, you earned it. Which brings me to...
7. ...Maintain your success... You have to consistently maintain and improve all that you've worked for. After 6 years of being natural, I sometimes find myself slipping into lazy practices, leaving my with hair that isn't as great as it was in my early natural days. What got you there will not keep you there... Success is a journey, not a destination.
8. ...Share your success. I went from knowing nothing about my hair to knowing enough to share that knowledge and help other people. Even now, when I get compliments on my hair, I feel most rewarded when I can use that as an opportunity to share what I've done and help someone else attain the success that I've reached. Ask anyone, they'll tell you that I ADORE when someone tells me that I was a big help in them going natural. In part, that's why I even have this blog—I love sharing my journey to help other people :-) Why even bother being successful if you're just going to keep it to yourself?
So what do you think, dear readers? Is there a particular accomplishment from your past that inspires you to be successful in the future?