Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"You Can't Control Everything" and Other Bits of Wisdom from a Curly-Haired Kid

Beautiful. Unique. Exotic. I've heard my naturally curly hair called many things. I've also heard it referred to as I've often seen it:  unmanageable, wild, frizzy. For me, it's always been a mixed bag. Some days, I tolerate it. Some days, I embrace it. Oftentimes throughout the years, I've hated it. 

Throughout my life, it has remained constant in one way. It has been unpredictable. No matter what it's supposed to do, it finds a way to do the opposite. About the only thing I can count on with my hair is that it will stay on my head, and it will change how it looks from the start to the end of the day. I can straighten it, just to have it curl back up. I can work to maintain the curl and have it look presentable, only to have it frizz all over the place. At the slightest hint of humidity, I'm Bozo the Clown in an instant. My hair will always be the most challenging part of my morning routine. Having said that, I have realized that having this crazed, curly mop has taught me a few lessons I might have otherwise overlooked. 

You can't control everything. I am a perfectionist–always have been. It was something that drove me crazy as a child and teenager, the need to have everything perfect. Over the years, I still strive for excellence; however, I have relaxed greatly. I credit much of this to my hair. Truthfully, when you have something on your head that you simply cannot control, no matter how hard you try or how much you spend on products, you learn that some things were never intended to be perfect. There's beauty in imperfection, though. I mean, I can put a great deal of effort into straightening the hair, only to have it ruined by a gust of wind or a small amount of humidity. Or, I can let the curls do their thing, embrace it, roll down my windows, and let the wind mess it up all it wants. Sometimes, the imperfect moments–the ones that are out of our control–are the best moments in life. 

I've used this before, but it's because I'm pretty sure this woman is my spirit animal.

Some things really are forever. There are some things in life we are stuck with, things we do not get to choose. Our hair. Our family. Our upbringing. Our hometowns. Our past. These things may be great. They may be good or even bad, but they're all a part of who we are. While life takes many turns, there will always be parts of ourselves that we cannot change and that we should really learn to appreciate. 

Some things never change…

People will make assumptions about your life, and they will be wrong. If I had a nickel for every time someone has made an assumption about what it must be like to have curly hair, I'd be loaded. Seriously, we could all take a massive vacation. My favorite of these is, "it must be so nice to just let your hair be free and natural." As I shall illustrate, what you see when my hair is curly is never its "free and natural" state. Its "free and natural" state is the stuff nightmares are made of, the stuff that frightens children…really. Nonetheless, no matter what you are doing (whether it's a relationship, a job, or where you want to live), people will make assumptions. They'll try to relate or think they understand. Sometimes they're right, but even when they're not, it gives you a chance to laugh or to educate them on realities of a situation when it calls for it (with the hair thing, I usually just opt for the laugh…it's better that way). 

Sheerly for the sake of proving an old argument wrong…this is what happens with "free and natural." Like I said, happy nightmares…

Spontaneity really is a beautiful thing. As I mentioned, the need for perfection is futile at best. Life is so much more fun when we can learn to be flexible. One night, I had worked to straighten my hair to what I thought might be close to perfection. We went out, and it started to rain. I thought about running for cover, but something made me stay. Instead of worrying, I let the rain fall, and before long, my hair was curly again (albeit wet and probably a little unsightly). Even so, that night was one of the most fun nights out I've had in a long time, and I could have missed out on a lot of it by hiding out to protect my hair. The fact is that, when we just go with the flow on occasion, we're open to options. We're not spent hiding out or planning everything to a T. Life doesn't go according to plan; neither does hair…ever. 

When all else fails, grab a goofy hat. At least, then, the hat might be more of a conversation piece than the hair. Always worth a shot.

There will always be someone who has it "better" in some way. As a kid, I used to dream of what it would be like to have straight hair like my sister's or my friends. Some days, I still do. Sure, my morning routine would be easier, but I'd also probably have fewer laughs in the mirror. There will always be things about ourselves we want to "fix." We all have our quirks, and we all have things that aren't exactly as we wish they would be. But, we're all also unique, and there's great beauty in that. 

Laughter is the best way to deal with everything. I can get uptight about certain things, and my hair can be one of those. Some days, it makes me a little crazy that it's completely out of my control. Some days, I look in the mirror and just know that that's as good as it's going to get. But, the best part is that, I can usually get a laugh out of what it does. When I first wake up, I'm always amazed at just how many directions one head of hair can go…and it's always good for a laugh. From this, I've learned that, if you can't control it, find the humor. 


A back-up plan is always a good idea. You know that event you have in a few weeks? You've got the dress, the shoes, the hair…you've got it all planned. You may even set aside some extra time to get ready. And, then it starts to rain (or even worse, there's just a touch of humidity hanging in the air). If you've got curls, you had better prepare for a change in planning. Much like curly hair, life is highly unpredictable. Sometimes, you have to change gears, change direction, or come up with a spur-of-the-moment back-up plan. The trick is realizing that it's not necessarily a crisis, but instead a chance for redirection. 

Hakuna Matata???

Life is full of good, bad, and interesting. Amongst the bad and crazy hair days, there are always a few good ones. Sure, it'll frizz or curl at the ends by the end of the day, but, as with everything else, you have to just go with it. Rock it, be you, and surround yourself with people who love you, regardless of what your hair may be doing. 

And, although I've always hated the saying, it really is a nice thing to be able to have options (albeit, once the humidity shows up, there is no option)

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