I walked home from church one Saturday afternoon, after spending the whole morning writing scripts for our Sunday school’s upcoming lessons. I passed through Park Slope and debated if I should go to my favorite Chinese restaurant, Mr. Wonton. My stomach cravings got the best of me. I walked in and noticed a young, black woman, sitting in the corner, eating General Tso’s Chicken. She was alone. I was empowered by how carefree she was. I’ve eaten by myself before, but seeing her there, at that moment, reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve been a solo diner. I asked for a seat in the back of her, not to be a lurker but her area offered the best seating in the restaurant. I ordered shrimp fried rice and a shrimp roll. They brought over noodle chips with a bowl of duck sauce. I giddily enjoyed a delicious meal, and my fortune told me “If you can shape it in your mind, you will find it in your life…”
That simple moment led me to think about how content I was. I am single. I’ve been single for quite some time now, however it was the first time in my life where I didn’t feel shame about my singleness or even, complain about it. I love myself. I really do, and it took such a long time to get here but I am here. I don’t want to settle in a relationship. I don’t want to attract men with empty promises and an inability to be faithful. I don’t want to compromise myself anymore. I don’t want to lose myself either. I don’t want to give and not get the same back in return. I don’t want to feel alone, even though I have the title of a girlfriend. I don’t want to be worried about where my man is or why he hasn’t called me all day. I don’t want to question if he will feel the same joy that I feel about my birthday or Valentine’s Day. I don’t want to push my man to make more ambitious strides with his life without the same support from him. I don’t want to teach a man how to be a man. I’ve grown tired of it all.
My table was set for two. I looked at the empty seat in front of me, but it didn’t taunt me. It represented the ghosts of the many men that came before that just didn’t work out. It also represented the bright future ahead of me. I’ve given my love life to God. So while he does the work in me, I know there’s going to be many other times where I will be dating myself, and that’s okay. I am content in where I am right now because I know I am being prepared for a relationship that will last forever.
I remember when I first went natural. My eyes completely opened to this new world of hair. I spent most of my life being ashamed of my hair and for the first time, I learned there was a community of women who had the same feelings, concerns, and hopes for this revolutionary hair movement. I no longer felt alone. It was a beautiful moment in my life that I will cherish forever because it taught me how to love myself. I finally looked in the mirror and saw a beautiful woman staring back at me.
After three years of being natural, my hair completely fell out. I mean, fell out. It was gone. I worked so hard to grow my hair. I watched videos, moisturized, washed once a week, finger detangled, oiled every day and night, and even used a silk bonnet before bed. I thought my hair was strong enough to withstand heat, so when a hairdresser blowdried and flat ironed my hair I had no idea, it would break off only a few weeks later. I could blame it on the heat damage that weakened my follicles but the real issue was I was listening to all these natural hair “experts” internalizing what worked for their hair and thinking it would also work for my own.
Four years after my big chop and I am detached from the natural hair movement. All of the information and misinformation began to get overwhelming. One article tells you biotin and castor oil is great for hair growth, while another article tells you it’s not. One Youtuber says mineral oil is the worst thing known to man (and hair), while another Youtuber tells you there are some good ones out there. So many experts, yet no one is really an expert. It almost felt like the blind leading the blind.
The natural hair movement is one of the best and most powerful movements out there. I thank God it came into existence because I would’ve never known my hair. I would still be wearing weaves, thinking my hair is not capable of growing. I can’t thank the movement enough for my consciousness but I’ve learned that MY HAIR is teaching me all that I’ve ever needed to know. I wash it 1-2 times a month and do a protein treatment when I do. I moisturize it with water every day and an oil of choice (now its coconut oil). I take my hair, nails, and skin vitamins every single day. I doubled my intake of water, which is huge because I was one of those people who thought water was “nasty.” I honestly just let my hair do the talking and I am so amazed by its progress! It’s not where it used to be but gradually getting there. When you first go natural, the excitement is there, and it should be, I never want to take that from anyone. But with time you will learn, like me, that your hair is the best teacher!