Reflecting on my journey, it has been quite a process. I've learned so much about myself as well as others. My thoughts of "it's only hair" have been expanded to include the perceptions and viewpoints of others to whom it's not just hair. Popular and widely accepted beauty standards sometimes overshadow one's ability to embrace what is naturally and beautifully their own.
From what I have discerned, all women (people) sometimes struggle with their identities and suffer from the "grass is greener" syndrome. People with curly hair want straight hair, short people wish to be tall and I am sure you could think of a million other things in your mind that people would like to change about themselves.
What I am taking away from this process of cutting off my hair then painstakingly growing it out naturally, is that no matter what it looks or behaves like, it's mine. Love it or hate it, it's mine. I have gotten reacquainted with my hair so that I am now able to diligently love and care for its needs. There will undoubtedly be a few not so good hair days, and that's ok.
I've also come to realize that not every woman will want to endure this process. I say endure because there were times when I thought about going back to the creamy crack (chemical relaxers ). That was addictive behavior for me. Every six to eight weeks the madness was repeated to the point where my hair was thinning and breaking. Some women claim to experience no damage at all from repeated use of this stuff. I can only speak for myself and for me it was a no brainer....kick the crack! It's even worse when this stuff is thrust upon young girls as a way to "deal" with their seemingly unruly hair. I am not judging women who choose to relax their hair...at all. I am a live and let live-er. It was no longer right for me, so I stopped....it's that simple.
As a newbie, I was soapboxing to everyone with hair about the benefits of going natural. Trying to figure out why most black women I spoke to were not quick to jump on the bandwagon was futile though. People have their own reasons for doing or not doing anything. The longer my hair grew, though, the sparks of interest began to fly. I received questions ranging from "Do I have a weave" (which led me to believe that many assume that if a black woman has long hair it MUST be fake), "How did I grow my hair", "What products do I use", etc. Excitedly I would answer that I simply quit using relaxers, learned how to manage and care for my hair and use products that my hair likes. Sadly, that's not the answer for which most of the askers were looking or just reduced my accomplishment to genetics.
There is no magic pill or potion that will grow hair. Period! There are plenty of women out there who have so called "good hair" but still cannot manage to grow it past their shoulders until they stop abusing it via chemicals and/or heat and take better care of it (still many would argue that chemical relaxing is not damaging...we could debate that point all day long and it would not be fruitful). There are also many women in the blogosphere who at one point thought they could not grow their hair because it was "too nappy", "too coarse", "too whatever", but a few lifestyle changes and dedication to a new haircare regimen has yielded hair that is long, healthy and beautiful!
Bottom line, we were only born with one self, why not embrace the uniqueness of yours??