Yesterday, I hit 900 subscribers on the How Bourgeois Facebook page. If you would have asked me three years ago, if I ever thought I'd have even 500 subscribers one day, I would laugh and say "never!" But I'm so glad that I'd be wrong, because today my life is richer, full of wonderful, new friendships and I see over and over the goodness that helping each other can bring.
It's YOU guys. My blog friends! My silver sisters, my beautifully caring readers! It is YOU who I see time and time again, leaving comments and notes and sending emails to help and encourage myself and to others around us. What a gift it is for me to witness such compassion and camaraderie in a world that can sometimes be cold and sadly cruel. You are shiny, bright role models for the human race!
What I'm getting at is THANK YOU DEAR READERS!!! Thank you for being there and thank you for pitching in to help each other. You are amazing and incredible and I am ever so grateful for you each and every day. And so, I hope to always be able to give back to you too. To send out as much encouragement and support and warmth as you have.
That's why I've thought long and hard about my journey to gray, and have compiled the things that helped me the most as my gray hair grew out. These are the "secrets" that helped to make this quite emotionally rocky, "adventure" go a bit more smoothly. It's kind of the companion post to my "Seven Best Tips & Tricks for Successfully Growing Your Gray Hair Out." I hope some of these little tips can help you along the way too!
I love you guys! Thank you from my heart! \(^-^)/
So you've made the decision that it's time for you to stop coloring your hair. Whatever your reason may be, you're ready, you're scared, and you're dreaming of the day when your transition is all complete!
(Scared me. Worried me. But hopeful me too....)
Yet for all of the prep-work and reading up and planning on how to handle this COLOR change, it's easy to arrive unprepared in regard to riding the roller coaster of EMOTIONAL change- when we dare to go gray.
(Sad me. Several months in.)
As you have arrived at secret #1.) The MOST IMPORTANT SECRET!
"For all of the turmoil and emotional ups and downs during our transition to gray, there is FAR MORE happiness and freedom and positives in the end."
Fear, sadness, feeling ugly, feeling old, not wanting to venture out into the world for worry of what they'll say and think.... Every not-so-great feeling you might have now, it is so worth it in the end, you'll see! The good out weighs the bad, trust me on this one. :)
"One day soon you're going to feel normal again. Your won't feel like you with gray hair, you'll just feel like plain, old normal YOU!"
From the moment that those strikingly obvious roots begin to show, and your fear and worry creeps in, to the oh-so- "interesting" looking skunk stripe that takes over later, and all you want to do is wear a bag over your head and sob. It feels like things will NEVER be the same. A week while growing out your gray hair can sometimes feel like a month, a month like a year! If you're anything like me, you've been standing in front of the mirror wondering WHEN WILL THIS END!? When will I finally feel like I look half-way normal? Will it ever NOT BE ABOUT MY GRAY HAIR again!?
Well, the answer is "YES!" Yes, yes, yes. Believe it or not, there will come a day, sooner than you think, where you'll wake up and it will be business as usual. You won't wake and look in the mirror and think of the gray. (You'll look in the mirror and think about how you want to style your hair that day.) There will come a time when you walk into work, or a family party or a friend's get-together and the talk isn't about how your gray hair is coming along. (You'll talk about anything else but your gray, because it's old news!) One day, things will settle down and you will be back to just being you. You will not be defined by the choice to stop coloring your hair, you will not be defined by your hair color!
"Growing your gray hair out is like childbirth, the memories of all the hard stuff will fade, it will quickly becomes a thing of the past!"
I know this comparison might sound a little silly, but believe me, as somebody who has been through both situations, I was surprised to find that after my gray hair grow out ordeal, the stressful memories faded fairly quickly. When you're in that "eye of the hurricane", and you have a few months of new hair growth, it can just feel so major! Every time you step out of your house, you might be bombard by worries of what you look like to the world. "Will people stare at me at the grocery store?" "Will I hear snickers from kids at the library?" It can be enough to make a person stay home! (And feel really down on themselves too.)
But as your hair grows, so will you self-confidence! So will the compliments, so will your hope! And at some point, your gray hair will be all grown-in. You'll be sporting a new color and a style or length that just feels right, and that is when all that you went through starts to change to become a mere memory. And then....then....before you even have time to notice, those memories....they fade! It's funny, apart from the photographic evidence, there is little I remember about the months of growing my hair. Especially, I have let go of and mostly forgotten the difficult times. Have hope....HOPE HOPE HOPE....it DOES get better! :)
"Decide to change your FEAR into FEARLESS!"
Here's the truth- when you wake up tomorrow, you have a choice to make. You can either choose to spend the day worrying about your gray hair, OR you can choose to spend the day being fearless and free and not wasting time on fear. Because the fear will do nothing. It won't help you or your hair one bit. It'll just suck up your energy and make you feel sad.
(I CAN do this!)
"Create your DREAM TEAM!"
It's time to huddle up. Nothing, seriously NOTHING helps to quell the doubts that can creep in like a good, supportive team cheering you on!
When I first started growing out my hair, I was SUPER insecure. Everyday I dreaded school pick-up at the end of the day. I thought that I must look completely crazy to all of the parents and teachers. I feared that I was looking exactly like a skunk! Luckily for me, each time I ventured into Noah's school building and rounded the corner past the library, I'd hear called out: "SILVER FOX!!!" And then I'd smile, take a deep breath and know that I've got this! The person yelling "SILVER FOX!" , reminding me to stand tall, was my friend Elisabeth, who was also our school librarian at the time. She was one of the first people on my TEAM! And what a contribution she has made to my success, just by being there for me with positivity and fun encouragement. :)
So get a group together, seek out those who are willing to help. For example, I called around to salons looking for somebody who would be pro-gray. I was VERY lucky to quickly find my hairstylist Lydia, who not only did not try to convince me to dye my hair again, but fully, whole-heartedly let me know how much she thought my gray would ROCK! That was huge. Every time I go in for a trim or a hair treatment, it's like an emotional high-five for my decision to go gray.
Surround yourself with supportive family members if you can. My Mother and Father-in-law were spectacularly encouraging. I appreciated their warm, positive words so much. My Father-in-law even came across a new book about one woman's experience with going gray and bought me a copy! How nice is that!? My team felt strong.
And for those of you in a relationship, sometimes the support of a partner can mean the world. From the get-go, my husband Jon was nothing but encouraging. He was open to having a 33 year old GRAY HAIRED WIFE! Which I think, the thought must have been at least a bit scary. But even if it was, he hid it well. Jon kept me looking on the bright side when I was feeling low. Reminding me that things would get better. How lucky I am.
I hope that you can find some family and friends and co-workers and professionals to be on your team too! Don't give up in your quest to find them, because I promise you will! As your hair begins to grow, more people will approach you with questions and more often than not, kind words. Use those interactions as opportunity to make more team members!
"Practice the art of acceptance. Accept the fact that you have gray hair and well, it just might be a little uncomfortable for a bit. Accept the situation, sit with it, and know that this too shall pass."
We can do anything much more easily if we know that there is an end point. We know that one day, your hair will be all beautiful and nicely grown out. We know that this is only a temporarily difficult time.
Say to yourself each day: "This is only temporary. I will just hang on and soon this will be over." And in the meantime, remind yourself over and over with your gray inspiration pictures and your going gray support groups online and your encouraging websites that things WILL be ok, and very soon for that matter!
"Baby steps. It's all about day by day."
Don't do a week at a time, do a day at a time. If you are having a particularly bad day, one where you are hating your 4" of gray growth or wondering WHEN THIS WILL EVER END!? Remind yourself to just take it one day at a time. It's easier to deal with a day's worth of doubt, then a week's worth. Remember, tomorrow is a new day. A new opportunity for a new outlook. A chance to chose positivity and fearlessness!
And something REALLY fun about taking things day by day, is getting to TREAT YOURSELF EACH DAY! Every single day, do something fun to brighten your spirits. Change up your hair style, find a new hair styling product, put on a new pretty headband, look for sparkly barrettes online. Go out shopping for a hat. Like me, LEARN TO CROCHET AND MAKE YOURSELF LOTS AND LOTS OF HEADBANDS AND HATS!!! :)
"Look at things from the bigger picture. Your family still grows, the seasons still change in amazing ways, you still see beautiful sunsets that make you grab the camera. Life goes on!"
I've told this story before, (I think) but I'll tell it again. When I was a sophomore in college, I went to a local cosmetology school for a haircut. My boyfriend at the time had always said he liked short hair on girls, and on this particular day I was feeling slightly daring. I'm not exactly sure why, but upon climbing into the chair I said: "I want a pixie cut!"
I'd never had short hair before, and with my thick, wavy and unruly mane, there is probably a reason for it. But, none-the-less, I received the cut that I had requested. It wasn't a cute pixie cut, at least on me. If you thought I already looked like a boy with my baggy "skateboarder" jeans and tee-shirts and skateboarding sneakers, then now I REALLY looked like a boy, and not a cute one!
One look in the mirror and I was devastated. What had I done!?
I remember riding my bike with tears streaming down my eyes, all the way to the dorms. Thankful for the cover of darkness. Once inside my room, my friends tried to console me, but even they understood the mistake that I had made. I couldn't stop crying. And for some reason, some how, we ended up in a friend of a friend's dorm room. There was a girl in there whom I had never met before. She asked kindly what was wrong and through my tears I explained.
And then she changed my life. In the nicest of ways, with no judgment, only with genuine words she said: "My sister had cancer. She lost all of her hair. She was devastated, but you know, it's just hair, it all grows back. Your hair will grow back too." *Pan to me. Sobbing IMMEDIATELY stops. FOOT INTO MOUTH. Turning bright red.* And yeah, in a single instant I got it, I UNDERSTOOD...... IT'S JUST HAIR!
I'm glad this person's took the time to speak with me. I'm so thankful. I think that is why, 10+ years later, I was able to eventually go through with growing out my hair. It was the constant reminder to myself that it's just hair. I know this doest discredit how HARD it is to have gray hair and show it to the world. This doesn't negate the sad emotions, the fear, the odd stares we might sometimes get, but it does help to put things into perspective a little, doesn't it?
And so my beautiful, warm-hearted Silver Sisters, this is where I will end my post for today. It's not always fun to end with the most serious point, but I felt secret #8.) helped me greatly when the going got really tough. It helped me to take a deep breath and keep my eye on my goal, which was to get all of my gray hair grown out. In the end, I am so happy that I decided to take this journey. Thank you so much for being here with me!