It's my identifier. It's unpredictable. It's impetuous. It's rambunctious. It's my hair.
This autumn, it will be six years since I've had a substantial haircut. After a traumatic experience left me feeling lost and vulnerable, my hair provided a symbolic veil of protection. I grew my own security blanket consisting of a mass of thick long curls that could shield me from the painful target practice.
As my hair continued to grow longer, I simultaneously grew stronger. I assumed that the two events were interconnected in my own revival of the Samson story. I resisted hair cuts in order to maintain the confidence I was assembling. I felt courageous running on the trail with my power braid. I felt resilient at work with my artistically wrapped bun. At home, I wore it down and let the accumulation of waves form tentative dreadlocks between hair brushings.
The irony of my hair growth is that, although it made me feel brave, it also drew criticism because of its size. "That's too much hair!" "Why don't you straighten it and make it nicer?" "Why is it so crazy?" Insults aimed at this attribute, that I equated with my developing bravery, made me guarded. I defended its size and celebrated its texture. My hair had become a part of me that was unique. I was proud of the mane that, as it grew, supported my own growth. Countering the hair shaming, only strengthened my fortitude.
I love my hair...but the time has come. I can now stand boldly with my head held high and my hair tied back. I choose to be defined by so much more. I am passionately and breathlessly chasing after my dreams. I have a new lease on life with a love that fills my sails.
On October 6th, at the 2018 Sticks n' Stones Trail Race, I will cut off my braid. I will raise funds and donate my hair in hopes that it's protective power can help a sick child who needs a supportive crown of tresses. It will be an emotional process as I release my old friend, but I know that my hair can benefit someone else and it's time to let go.
I hope that all of my hair will return one day. Until then, I eagerly await my new identifier.
Happy Trails -