There comes a point, after you've grown your gray hair all the way out, when it looks "normal" compared to....let's say the "skunk stripe" phase that you start to think less about it. You walk around with your gray hair for a while, a few months, a year. You see your reflection in storefront windows as you pass by, and in the bathroom mirror, and no longer does your reflection shock you. You're not surprised, you don't ask yourself: "who is this woman staring back at me?" It's just simply you, and you don't devote as much time thinking and worrying and questioning the gray.
That's what happened to me at least. After a few years of being a full-fledged "Silver Sister," I kind of stop analyzing it all. I thought more about most other things, and less and less about my hair color.
Then this summer, something happened. I can't tell you why, but the "looks" started getting to me again. I began to notice the stares more often. Here and there, everywhere that I went, my HEAD would get the stares! Was I imagining this?
I was so good at letting the puzzled looks go when I was growing out my hair. In the beginning, most people would give my half white, half dark brown hair at least a side-glance. I understood it, I looked looney! I would look at myself too! 😅😂
Once it was all grown out, I remember still getting little looks from time to time. From what I figured, I was a younger person with a head full of white hair- so not something that most people were used to seeing. It was also before the 20-somethings began to bleach their hair and dye it gray! "Hashtag Granny Hair," was not a thing yet.
It was because I could understand and sympathize with the human impulse to glance at something surprising or different, that I was able to brush them off to the point of not noticing the looks anymore. Not noticing them for a long time.
Then this summer happened. I have no idea what it was. Why was I suddenly getting more looks or maybe just noticing them again? Not just looks, but more like....you know the stares that people can do, that I myself can do when I'm daydreaming and I don't realize that I'm holding my gaze at someone in the grocery store a few seconds too long. The gazes when your mouth is kind of open and you're trying to figure out what exactly are you looking at? You know those?
Well, I got those stares, daily, multiple times, everywhere I went it seemed! I could almost read their minds from the expression on their faces: "Wait, is she old or is she a young person with white hair?" "Um....did she dye her hair white or does she have some problem and her hair went gray?" "Why in the world would she go gray?" Things like that. That's what I *think* they were thinking.
And all this looking just got to me. I began to feel insecure, like a minor freak. I worried that all these sets of eyes were connected to a brain that thought: "WHY would she ever do that to her hair!" At first, I wanted to make sure that I just wasn't being paranoid. I need to know if I was imagining it. So, Jon and I went out on errands, to places like Costco and the grocery store. I let him know what I was worried about, and asked him to quietly observe and see if people really did stare at my hair. I also asked him to give me the honest-to-goodness TRUTH. Sure enough, ten seconds into Costco.....one look, two looks, three glances and on.
Validation! I was not (so) crazy.
That's when I lost a little bit of my GRAITH. My gray hair faith. Faith in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing for me. Sure, it was good to avoid the hair dye that caused me allergies and avoid the chemicals that I had chosen not to use anymore. When I stopped coloring my hair I saved time, money and future stains to all my towels, but was this still enough to be worth it? Worth all of these stares?
We talked in the car, talked in the store, and talked again at home. Jon patiently listened to my worries and insecurities. I told him that sometimes I just wished that I was brunette again so I could simply blend in and avoid any attention. I didn't want to be a gray haired person anymore. I went through the pros and cons of coloring my hair and keeping it white. My husband, ever the diplomat, encouraged me to make the right choice for myself, and that he supported me either way. Either way? EITHER WAY!? "Come on" I said, "Just make this easy and make the decision for me!" But, he wouldn't.
In the days that followed, my feelings of grabulous (gray fabulousness) were at an all-time low. I was seriously considering dying my hair! I feared though, that if I should do this, I would lose the respect of many a silver sister and reader. I was too scared, and I just didn't know how to remedy these sad emotions.
Enter the pivotal moment of my graith rebirth, summer 2017! 😆😜 I hope for those of you who also struggle with your graith, that you have trips to Costco like this too........
The day I began thinking about coloring my hair, a few minutes after the "last stare that broke the Lauren's back," I said: "Jon, that's it. I can't look like such a weirdo anymore. I need to dye my hair!"
But no more than two isles later, the hair Gods must have been looking down on me, because a young GUY called out. I kid you not, called out to me from his table, (after I turned turned down his offer of "The Worlds Best Pillow,") and said "Hey! Your hair is really cool." Ha! What? Who, me!? "Yes," he said. "I really like your hair."
Now, I know what you are thinking, he's just trying to get me to buy a pillow and all, and this might be true! But he seemed so genuine and we got into a conversation about my hair, and I don't think he was trying to fool me. This young man said that he liked the gray, and then worried that he might have said something wrong after I thanked him for saying that and told him that I was tired of being gray though . He asked if it was difficult to get my hair to that color, and asked what I would dye it next. This made me smile. I said it was just my natural hair color, and he was shocked! Oh young people.....you're so young. I wish I was so young. I am so old now....... 😫😭😭😭
Seriously though, it was very kind of him. I thanked the pillow salesmen and then I was on my way to the potato salad holding my gray head a bit higher.
Wouldn't you know it, three seconds later in the potato salad isle, the most wonderful, sweet, kind woman came up to me and said: "I just love your hair!" I couldn't believe it. Maybe I thought....the universe was giving me a sign to not to dye my hair. "Thank you!" I said. She went on to point to her beautiful streak of pure white hair, and to talk about the ordeal of trying to figure out how she was going to get through the grow-out process. Then she candidly told me about her health issues, including MS, and how she wanted to stop applying chemicals to her body. That was very moving to me. What a brave woman. We talked a little more and I even shared my blog with her. I mentioned the support groups for men and women on Facebook, where we all encourage each other through the hard parts.
I went into Costco that day longing to color my hair, and I left with a renewed understanding of why I'm on this journey. I think it's to band together with others out there who are struggling with their own reasons for having to bare their natural hair. Without each other, I don't think it would be possible. For myself included! It was the brave women that went before me, that stopped coloring their hair, and shared their pictures, triumphs and struggles online. Without them, I would never had made it a month or even a week. I owe so much to my silver sisters, and that's why, with this purpose, I will keep going. I have my faith in this crazy journey the call "going gray" again.
Until Next Time!