Lately, I’ve been receiving all sorts of messages about my hair. It’s a handful, for sure – curly as can be, and long. In the Florida summers, the humidity makes it BIG, unruly even. But all my life, I’ve seen it as something to hide behind – literally in some ways, but also with the thought that people will see my hair and not be concerned with the rest of me.
It’s been another form of escape.
I remember walking through my high school, chin tucked in toward my chest, my hair pinned half up or falling around my face. I was trying my best not to be noticed. Looking back I see it as an early form of impostor syndrome. I had few friends, and the friendships I did have were not the type that would last long – in fact, I have not kept in touch with any of those people other than the odd connection on social media.
It was the same in college – by the time I left, I had still not made any friends, mostly because I wanted to explore beyond the college campus (I was in New York City, after all) and I was one of the few people I ever found on campus who didn’t drink alcohol. I recognized depression, and I still tried to disappear, so much so that I even graduated early, leaving the campus as soon as I could.
And into my 20s and 30s, I opted not to cut my hair – it had become a marker, an identity, as well as a tie to my Sikh culture that I refused to give up, even if I didn’t consider myself religious.
Now I’m suddenly seeing this hair, this unwieldly part of my physical Self, as a gift beyond just something pretty. Instead, it’s something powerful. It’s a crown.
A friend (yes, along the way, I’ve finally made friends) told me last week that my hair down makes me more intimidating – but in a good way, a powerful way. That when I walk into a room, it’s as though I have something to say. Funny, as I see in myself as having a lot to say, of wanting to say, but censoring myself for fear of how it might be received. As a journalist trained in old-school methods where we don’t share our own opinions, voicing my own now has been a challenge for me. I don’t want to upset anyone.
But at 40 (and no longer an active member of the media), shouldn’t I have a voice, an opinion, whether it’s ill-received is not on me but on the receiver? If they don’t like what I have to say, anyone worth engaging with will be open to a conversation, not an attack. But it’s attacks that we have too much of these days.
But back to my hair. I try to care for it, to be kind to it, to love it. And in fact, I truly do. I can’t imagine ever being without it.
Instead of being a block, though, something to disappear behind, to be a distraction, I want it to be a symbol of my voice, my abilities, my power.
Because, aren’t we all, as creations of the Divine, all powerful?