A few months ago, I cut my hair short and since then I tried different hairstyles: braids, hair weave and keeping it natural. I thought that cutting my hair short will help me feel more authentic but I learned that authenticity is about how you feel inside.
As much as I like long straight hair, I was tired of the time and money I had to invest in keeping them straightened. I did Keratin treatments on and off for years and just to give you an idea, what it entails:
- I spent three hours in a hairdresser’s chair every two months,
- I would pay 300$ per session, which amounts to 1800$ per year (and it does not include special hair products that I had to use to keep my hair straight).
I loved long straight hair but the more aware of myself and authentic I became, the more uncomfortable I felt with straightened hair.
What was the real reason behind my hair straightening obsession? The answer was uncomfortable but as someone who talks about mindful living, I had to sit with this feeling and be honest.
I was afraid to leave my hair natural. Since I was born, I have been surrounded by white people (my entire family is white and both my mom and my sister have long straight hair). I grew up in Eastern Europe and never looked like the typical Czech. Everyone was always looking at me, I was “the different one” because of my hair and my skin color. It was tiring.
When I was eighteen, I found the one and only African hairdresser in Prague and had my hair relaxed. Suddenly, the reactions of the outer world changed. I can’t say that people started to accept me but I felt that they didn’t look at me so much anymore. I would like to say that I felt pretty, and my life turned around but I would lie. In the following 10 years, I continue to struggle with bulimia, took drugs and tried to commit suicide, I dated a string of toxic men because I was so hungry for love that I would accept it from anyone who would give it to me.
We ask why men and women from the Western world became foot soldiers of Daesh but we don’t question what drove them to it. I bet that most of them felt isolated, alone, misunderstood and rejected. They felt like losers.
People ask me for advice on how to be authentic and how to overcome addictions and substance abuse. All I can say is that it was not of my doing. I may not be a Christian but this Psalm 23:4 from The Bible would suit my answer the best:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I am grateful that I discovered Buddhism at a young age and my “guardian angels” stood above me through thick and thin. Without them, I would end up in the street, died of an overdose or married a man that would beat me.
What helped you when you were at your lowest point?