Posted by Goku (other posts) on September 28, 2016 at 09:21:08 Previous Next
Been reflecting on the journey of growing long hair lately and felt like I'd share some of the thoughts I had. It's super long since its basically me splicing together some journal entries, but it might be interesting to someone.
One of the things that a lot of people mention when they grow out their hair are all the comments they get. People criticizing them, telling them to cut, etc. It seems like the majority of people aren't supportive, though there are probably a few out there for everyone. I have been thinking about why I thought that was and realized that people generally have a hard time with change and growing hair out changes what you look like relative to the mental image/perception they have of you, and they don't get what they expect.
I also found it interesting that people don't seem to see the growth as continuous. For me it seems to just inch along bit by bit every day. But then again I am looking in the mirror, watching the growth carefully, and experiencing all the small changes every day. There is no reason for them to notice such incremental differences and I think they just pick up on the big milestones or tune in every few weeks or months to notice something's different when it finally reaches a breaking point and triggers the mental alert that you aren't the same. It must be strange to see someone who has always had a buzz cut with hair getting in their eyes, or see them from behind and not recognize them because their hair is down passed their collar. The most comments I got was the first time I wore a ponytail out. Loose long hair to up is a dramatic difference in appearance and all it takes is 10 seconds and a hair tie.
Fortunately it seems that people start to mellow out after a while. I think part of that is because when you are growing your hair out something is significantly different every few months and there's no chance to really digest what is going on and settle into a new status quo before it is different again. At some point your hair is just long, they've seen you with a ponytail or bun, etc. Finally they get a chance to establish and new baseline image of you and whether they like it or not they are getting what they expect.
I have also found it interesting how I have changed. I got to see my hair grow ever so slowly and so my image of myself has simple shifted incrementally to one of me with long hair, but I had a ton of milestones to mark my progress. Experiencing new sensations with my hair getting in my eyes, then mouth. Hair brushing on my neck. Hair blowing around in a breeze. The difference between how it feels in a ponytail or bun or loose. Even more negative types of things like getting it stuck in a zipper of a jacket are kind of exciting.
Really interesting to me though, has been to realize all of the different habits and routines that I have developed as my hair has gotten longer. There are so many things you don't have to do or think about when your hair is short, and most of them a really small reflex type things now. I brush my hair out of my face without think about it or pull it out of the way when I put on my back pack or zip up a jacket. I comb it every morning and evening and had to make time at first, but now its just built in to my routine. I have to make sure I've got the right shampoo and conditioner and maybe some oil. I always have hair ties around after learning the hard way and being without in times of need a few times. I had to learn how to tie a nice ponytail or how to bun my hair, plus how to comb and brush it properly so I didn't destroy my scalp or hair.
Most of those things are milestones I made note of on the journey, but then you just kind of pass them and they are done. You don't consciously think about how you are incorporating them, but it is crazy how they really build up in the end. While I would have loved to instantly have long hair, looking back I'm not sure I could have handled it. I am positive I would have gotten frustrated with all of these things. It is definitely fortunate that I had a chance to learn and build them up over time to the point that I don't have to give any of them a second thought any more.
Long hair has also really taught me a lot about confidence. I thought I was relatively immune to peer pressure compared to some of my friends and classmates, but I realized how much I cared about what people thought. With some things that matters, but hair is just hair in the end and shouldn't be as big of a deal as it is. It was tough getting through the awkward stage and ignoring everything. Then I realized I was really self-conscious about wearing it differently around people. I would wear a ponytail in my room, but whip it out if someone knocked on the door for a week or 2 before I got up the guts to let anyone see. Slowly though I have embraced my hair and have learned not to worry so much about how I am perceived and that is a big benefit to the journey.