I have been growing my locs now for almost five years. I get comments on them from time to time, and when I do, I’m always reminded of how they came to be.
I have been natural since I was about 20, almost 13 years ago (wow). And I’ve always thought locs were beautiful, but the first time I made an attempt to try them out for myself, I got discouraged as I went through the “unmanageable” phase. If you have locs or have witnessed someone’s loc journey, you know that in the beginning stages, for a long period of time, your hair is like an unruly teen. It looks a mess, never listens to you, and does what it wants to do. Being a black woman and the granddaughter and best friend of hair stylists, I was always self-conscious about how my hair looked. So when I went through the crazy loc phase, I ended up taking my locs down and going back to my fro. I tried this 3-4 more times with the same results. I felt defeated.
A few years later, I started dating a guy with locs (remember this), so I thought I’d try again. This time I felt that I was all the way ready. I’d had a few years of self-esteem boosting and internal pep rallies and I was ready to go. I had the support of my lover…until I got to the crazy phase. The new me charged through it, but he was uncomfortable about the way that I looked. He didn’t like my hair being so untamed. Now, if you read up just a few lines, you’ll recall that he ALSO had locs, and went through the same crazy phase himself. But because I was his lady, I had to look “decent” at all times. And when I opened my eyes to this, I also saw that he had a certain expectation about how I should dress and talk, as well as what I should be studying in graduate school. Because I loved him, I went along with it. I combed my locs out and went back to my curly fro. I dressed “appropriately” and started reading the books he gave me.
As time went on, I could no longer remember who I was. All I knew was that I was his woman. That is, until he decided to leave. At first, I was heart-broken – I cried for weeks on end. But one day, I woke up and realized that I was free to be myself again. I realized that I loved myself EXACTLY as I am, and his leaving was the best thing he could do for me and my sense of self. I started my locs that day and haven’t looked back since.
It has taken me a long time to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. I was the “ugly duckling” when I was younger. I was teased frequently for my big lips and big eyes and “white girl” voice and light skin. It had a nasty effect on me until about high school. As I grew, I worked on me, and this experience with my ex showed me how solid a woman has to be in her sense of self whether she is in a relationship or not. People will try to change you to fit the mold of who they think you should be. And I’ve learned that they’ll do it because they have their own insecurities that they want you to fix. It’s not your job. We are here to work on ourselves to manifest the light and divinity within us. When we learn to love ourselves exactly as we are, we attract those who are walking that same path. When I look in the mirror at my locs, it is a constant reminder of the journey I have traveled in learning to love myself. And when I’m ready to cut them, I won’t give a damn what anyone thinks about it.
Have you ever felt you needed to change who you are for a person?
Have you ever changed your hairstyle or style of clothing just to suit your mate?
How did your experience growing up affect your self-esteem?
How do you manage the balance between compromise and becoming someone you are not?
Do you accept people exactly as they are, even if they’re not who you want them to be?