So I did a thing. After years as being identified as “the redhead” I got in a fight with purple hair dye, and the hair dye won.
For years I have been identified as the “redhead.” It made me stand out, and easy to spot in a crowd. People always made comments like: “When I think of you, I always think of the red hair.” Somehow my identity all got wrapped up with being a redhead. Over time, I started adding extensions to make my red hair even more of a statement. They were expensive and painful, but I just really wanted to have this Instagram perfect hair. It was ridiculous, really.
I didn’t realize that I had this weird obsession with my hair until it started falling out earlier this year. When I think back to that moment when my mom showed me the back of my head, and I saw two clumps missing, my heart just aches. I was so devastated. I started sobbing, feeling like no one was ever going to love me if I went bald. I went into a full-blown panic attack.
My doctor couldn’t diagnose it, other than to suggest that it could possibly be a result of the stress on my body from the anxiety and depression that I had been suffering. For months after discovering the patchy spots, I obsessed about creams or any miracle cure for hair loss. I cried a lot of tears whenever I saw the spots show up in photos.
But after a while, the reality check of my hair falling out finally helped me to really focus in on myself and get mentally and physically healthy. I started taking my therapy more seriously. I changed my diet in the hope that it would help with my depression. I wanted to emotionally eat, but I forced myself to find another healthier outlet instead of reaching for the box of cookies. I made myself do meditation and yoga, even though my depression made me just want to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself. At last, all of the love attention that I had been giving to everyone else for years, I finally channeled in on myself.
The guilt and shame part were the toughest parts. So often these are the first emotions that we as women attach to doing anything for ourselves. People need us, and who are we to take time for ourselves when we can help the people that we love?
So, what’s with the purple hair? It just sounded fun, and I stopped being so damn worried about what other people would think. My self-worth cannot be so shallow that it is based on the hair on top of my head. If all my hair fell out, I would still be beautiful. I would still be capable of being seen as a sexy woman. I would still have so much to bring to the table. My hair, my weight, my scars, my pats… none of these single things can be a deciding factor for if I am worthy of love.
All of us get caught up in something that we feel like defines our worth and who we are as a person. If it’s not “fixing” our looks with a crazy diet in the New Year, it’s a toxic relationship or work that we will somehow use as a way to define who we are. These insecurities creep into our lives when we aren’t even looking, and most of the time, we don’t realize it is there until we are forced to look at it.
Have you ever felt like this? Like if you changed something about your life, people would see you different? Who are you if you are not a great mom, a perfect girlfriend, dream wife, that babe with the great tattoos?
You are a wonderful human being with so many tiny little details that make you the person that you are. No one thing can ever define you. And if you are asking yourself right now, “Who am I without ______?” as you read this, then I assure you now is the time to dive deep into your soul with a mission of achieving some much needed self love.