Monday, September 11, 2017

Losing My Graith - Gray Hair Faith

Have any of you ever had the same experience? Do you also go through periods of doubt? I have a feeling that these might be universal Silver Sister feelings.........

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 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 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'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!



Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! This happens to me sometimes too - one of the worst was after a woman behind me in line at Michaels asked me if the crayons I was buying were for my grandchildren. But then a few weeks ago, I went to get my hair cut, and the stylist told me how great my hair looked and that I shouldn't ever dye it with permanent color, so I'm hanging onto that for the next time I have a loss of graith. :)

Debbie said...

Thank you so much for this honest post! I am 52 and have been coloring my hair since my late 20's/early 30's. I transitioned to gray last year and have had a love/hate relationship with my gray. This past weekend really bothered me. I too feel I am being started at, almost with confusion and disapproval. I have had many compliments (mainly from older women), but it still is hard some days to stick to my guns and remember why I chose this route. Thank you for the reminder of why!!

Sarah said...

Thanks for those stories....I guess we all struggle with self confidence, but would never know it unless we told each other!

Shasta said...

I literally never got a compliment on my hair (that I can remember) until I let it go gray. Now I get them all the time. Go figure.

But I do understand. I'm finally in that "no surprise" zone when I look in the mirror now. The thrill is gone, and it's just hair now. Which makes me want to do something different, until I wake up and snap out of it. :)

Pagan Woman said...

This has happened to me, and then I went and did something super crazy. I used this temporary blue hair stain and it lit my silver hair up. I loved it! Going back to gray soon, but really enjoying the blue for now. Sometimes it is other people and sometimes it is that I feel I need to switch it up. Either way I get looks.

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for this. I have been feeling the same way, especially since a dude at a baseball game said I must be the same age as his aunt, in her 50s. I'm 36. I think people don't know what to think of me sometimes and they don't really try to hide this. As someone who's always had a babyface, it's kinda nice not to be infantilized anymore. But I also carry around this feeling that if I did keep dyeing my hair, people would probably think I was in my mid twenties. It's hard sometimes. But like you, I also get the compliments sometimes. You were so inspirational to me when I decided to do this and you continue to be, especially with this post. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren,
Thanks for posting this- I can totally relate.
I also just wanted to say a massive thank you for your blog. I have to credit your amazing posts with finally giving me the shove I needed to stop dyeing my hair. I had MAJOR hair envy when I saw your beautiful hair and I finally realised how amazing my hair could be. It was so great to finally find a blog written by someone of my age who had hair like mine. I love reading all your posts- thank you! Xx

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren,
I was feeling confused and just ready to dye my hair again...but after reading your blog and the comments, I will continue on with my graith.
A man that I have been interested in for years finally decided to come for a visit, he would have been here by now except for the hurricane Irma, so his trip got postponed. He video called me on Saturday (normally I don't answer video calls) and I decided to pick up and he was walking on the beach and talking excitedly about the visit and then all of a sudden his attitude changed and said he would call me back that the noise on the beach made it hard for him to hear me. You know when you just know that a person was shocked, he knows me as a long haired highlighted blonde. For the last two days I have been thinking that I should dye my hair again but you know what, this is me, I have pure white gorgeous hair, chemical free and I like my look...I will not change for anyone.

Dede said...

I know why people stare at you. It's the same reason I found your blog. You are shockingly beautiful. The silver hair with your bright blue eyes is just unusual. That's why people stare at you. I saw your picture on Pinterest and found your blog. Be proud...because your doing it for your health and to stay healthy for your family.

Lauren said...

Oh you guys....... Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your own feelings and stories with me, and for your incredibly sweet, kind words. Thank you. <3

As difficult a road as this can sometimes be, isn't nice to have each other?

Love you lots!

Unknown said...

Oh! Please don't ever dye your hair. You are so beautiful and with grey hair you are stunning. You have been my inspiration to dye my hair grey! Not having naturally grey hair is the hardest color to achieve. I finally got it but all the bleaching destroyed my long hair. I finally stopped bleaching and now my brown roots are about 4 inches long and it's ugly! I'm in my early 40's and now have some natural grey on the top of my head. I've decided to just let the natural grey come in hoping that it will blended in with the dyed grey color. When I first dyed my hair grey I got more positive remarks then negative but there are people out there that have open mouth disease. One lady who I would guess was in her 50's who obviously dyed her hair brown asked me why, why am I dying my hair that color? So I turned it around on her and asked her why is she? That shut her up hopefully from being a rude person in the future.

Nancy said...

Hi Lauren!
No no and no! You can't go back! Your blog totally inspired me to have the confidence to go down this road. It's been two years for me and my hair is finally getting back to the style and length I had it when I was dyeing it. At the beginning when I was freaking out about it a male friend said you just have to own it and people will honor that when they get that vibe from you. I hold my head up high in public no matter what. I have mostly a big white patch framing my face and the it just goes dark again in the back. I was not expecting this during grow out phase but hey it's kind of interesting. I find most women who are staring are actually wanting to get to our level of acceptance with the aging process and are in awe of us! Why do I say this? Because the majority of stares once a conversation starts is that they love my hair color. I have also run in to many rude long stares but I figure these women have much bigger problems than me and I ignore them. These ladies turn into teachable moments for my kids to tell them it's rude to stare at people!

To conclude, I am 43 with a youngish face and blue eyes also. I have found men of all ages check me out constantly and I am convinced that it is your confidence level that is attracting them (ha! wish I knew this when I was much younger!)

And this is coming from someone who made it through back to school night the other day with all the moms at school looking at my hair too. Be strong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren. I'm really glad you posted this as it happens to be very timely for me. I'm in the same boat--early 40s with very light gray hair. I commented before (last year when I first started growing it out) and you were very encouraging, so thank you! You and your blog have been truly inspirational for me.

I get lots of staring too--and I didn't really anticipate that, because I live in a big city and you see all sorts of people here. Still, I seem to surprise and confuse people every day, many times daily! I am almost used to it, but not quite. And recently I've started to feel exhausted by it. I've had to develop a kind of "defiant" way of walking when I am on the street or doing errands, and while that is good in a lot of ways, it's also tiring. It's sometimes nice to just blend in, and I miss that. If nothing else, it's a lot easier to people-watch (something I've always enjoyed) when you don't stand out. (I've turned from a people-watcher into a people-watchee!) So I've begun seriously considering dyeing my hair again in the last month or two. I'm so glad I'm not alone in that feeling.

In the end I always decide not to. I don't want to undo all the work of growing it out, not after almost a year and a half! Besides, in the end, I know I can't let strangers decide what I do with my hair, especially when I can't know how many of those are actually judging it (and when many friends have told me they like it). I guess this is as good an opportunity as any to get over some of my lifelong fears of being "different," "weird," etc...which is a much bigger matter, and won't be solved with a box of hair dye.

Thanks again so much for this post, and for sharing your journey so honestly with the world.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone, I thought I would comment along the same lines...People stare at us because we are unique, and we dare to defy society's expectations on women. I hear 50/50 negative /positive remarks. Your'e hair is stunning and it brings out your eyes and skin. Then I hear things like, if you just colored your hair, you would look so much younger. Ladies, I am proud of my age! I don't want to look like a teenager. I want to look like a 42 year old woman who takes care of herself, and who exudes confidence. Everyone, keep being you. If that entails hair color, awesome! If it doesn't, stand proud and show off your natural highlights. Lauren has been my inspiration, and I'm sure most of yours. Lauren puts it all out there for us to see, and I appreciate that more than anything. I truly LOVE my gray hair, and will NEVER go back. Thank you, Lauren, and my husband thanks you as well!
Valerie :)

Lauren said...

Valerie! What a beautiful, heart-felt comment. Thank you so so much for sharing with us. You are incredibly kind, and I appreciate all of the encouragement that you are sending to myself and our silver sister's. You are a true gem! Sending love. <3

Unknown said...

I've only been growing out my grey for just over 2 months, but your hair gave me the motivation to get started because it was so pretty. I've been wanting to give up dye for the past 2 or 3 years. I was tired of liking my hair for 2 weeks after dyeing and then hating the roots for the next 2-4 weeks (I tried to wait as long as possible between dyes because I didn't like putting those chemicals on my scalp). That meant I spent more than half the year not liking how my hair looked. When I start not liking my greys I think about that. I find myself staring at people with grey hair because I think it is cool. I should make sure I voice it to them, so they don't just think they are a freak or something.

Anonymous said...

I have let my hair grow out naturally 3 times now. Stay gray

Julie B said...

For two years I grew out my hair and embraced my gray. I had been coloring for 30 years. I loved growing out my gray. It was by no means all gray as my hair is long. I enjoyed watching it change every day, I was totally up for it. Then, one day, I was standing next to my sister, who is one year younger than I, and I decided I wanted to dye it blonde again like hers. I did. I have colored it twice since then and am now done. My hair is so dry and damaged! The bleach blonde highlights are no longer what I want. I am more committed than ever to embrace pro aging. have long long hair to my low back. I haven't colored for 12 weeks and am looking forward to growing it out gray, again. Now I know that I the blonde is past, the gray is right where I want to be.

Sara said...

Your hair is truly beautiful, that is why people stare it’s for good reasons! I hope you keep up with your authentic self but if you decide to color your hair I don’t think anyone would look poorly on your personal choices in the silver community.

Lauren said...

Awww, thank you so much Sara! That's very kind and supportive of you . <3

No worries, I am keeping my hair just the way it is-gray! :)

Thanks so much again.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lauren and all my Gray Sisters,
I just want to thank you so much for your honesty and bravery. I too have decided to go gray and did so 5 years ago, never to look back. I was 37 at the time and I like you I do not have that beautiful white hair. I’m more of a salt and pepper kinda girl. ;). I too have had days of self doubt. I know I would look younger with my natural brunette colour but at the end of the day I am happy with me and have a wonderfully supportive husband just as you do with Jon.
I want to add I think you get the stares because you are so beautiful and unique. I love your hair and you have been pivotal in my decision to grow out my natural colour. It’s a shame we don’t support one another more with going natural. I comment every time I see a lady who had gone natural. I think it’s beautiful.
I have a hair dresser that is so unkind to my hair colour and every visit makes a subtle dig. I have never told anyone this before. I continue to see her because she does wonders for my cut, otherwise I would let her go. I brush it as I feel confident inside but I do wish we supported each other more in our choices.
I’m proud of you all. XO

Anonymous said...

Your blog is very honest Lauren, thanks for sharing! I'm about one year into the process and while I mostly feel badass about my grey hair, sometimes I feel like the fear (I used to having of showing grey roots) is still there only now I'm afraid of flourescent lights and swimming pools and rooms of strange women. Its not easy, and while I look forward to having it fully grown out, I can understand what you're saying here that its not the end of the matter. Don't we all just need a little kindness and support and acceptance from those around us? Its helped me to feel empathy for how people who look different for other reasons must feel.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,
I just wanted to say how much your blog has helped me over the past year. I have not dyed my hair since last January and it has been a journey with lots of ups and downs. My hair went gray at age 21 and after 13 years of blue black hair dye every 3 weeks, I thought 'enough is enough'. I cut my hair to 1" of length and let it grow. I am now at a shaggy chin length not-quite bob. I now wonder, when will it ever be long again??!! When I'm feeling not my best through the process, I always read through your blog for inspiration and strength. Yesterday I was at my worst and had a box of hair dye in my hand at the store. I was almost on my way to the checkout and some inner voice told me not to do it. I'm so glad I put it back and left the store! I really had a moment of clarity and realized if I dyed my hair, it would be like trying to be someone I'm not. The gray hair is me! And it doesn't make me any older! Gray hair or not, I'm still 35! I'm still the same me! Right now I struggle a lot with the texture of my hair and trying not to heat style it more than once a week so it will grow healthily. It's at an awkward length and difficult to style and look fashion forward. But I just read through your post about a mini-makeover and got some ideas. I think that is just what I need to get me over the hump until I have shoulder length hair again. Sorry for the long post, but just wanted to THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your blog and let you know you are SUCH an inspiration to so many women! Stay strong all of my fellow Silver Sisters!
Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Did you end up coloring your hair?

Lauren said...

Hiya! Thanks for your question! No, I didn't color my hair. In fact, I had a nightmare the other day that I did dye my hair and in my dream I really regretted it. Still a Silver Sister! I started working on a new post this week about trying to help my hair grow more quickly. I will post soon. Thanks for stopping by. :) xo

Trapped in Suburbia said...

I love love love that you shared this! I've had the same feelings, for SURE. And inevitably when I do, the universe sends a sign that I have amazing gray hair! I had a colorist at my salon come over and fawn (yes, she fawned!) over how my hair is lighter in the front, what toner did I use. My own stylist said "she rocks this all on her own".

Sometimes, a little external validation is just what I/we need to reinforce the decision we've made to be silver sisters.

Keep up the great work!

Lauren said...

Hi Kelly!!!!

Oh I just love your comment. So true! Thank you for sharing and inspiring us to hang in there.
xoxoxoxoxoxoxox!!!! <3


Gigi said...

I don't know how I came across your blog, but I am glad I did. I am 57 years old, an age where gray hair shouldn't be a big deal but sometimes it is. I have often lost my "graith" but every time I think about dyeing my hair, keeping up new growth, and them waiting for it to grow out and be completely gray again, I appreciate my hair. Plus, I think it looks pretty cool. Good for you for hanging in there.

*SIDEBAR* I recently had a painter come out for an estimate on painting a couple of rooms in my house. When he emailed the estimate, there was a 10% discount for senior citizen. "Wait, I thought. I'm no senior citizen." But then I saw the discount equaled $365.00 of the total price. Man, bring me those senior citizen discounts. I'll take it!