What My Hair Has Taught Me About Life


Bre-Anna Aubin, Contributor

When I was a child, I was blessed with beautifully long, pin-straight, blonde hair and pink-toned fair skin. My hair reached one length at the bottom of my back and required zero maintenance, aside from the yearly trim. It didn’t matter where I went, whether people knew me or not, I always was noticed for my hair.  

It wasn’t desirable to me though. I had a little sister, with hair just like mine, and people often got us confused because of it. I envied my older sisters’ and mom’s hair: medium, brown, and curly hair. So, I did what any reasonable person would do: I cut 18 inches of my hair off. 

It was a risky decision. I had never been allowed to cut my hair, aside for a trim. Instantaneously, I had shoulder-length hair, but I didn’t stop there. I wanted curly hair too. I decided that the next step in achieving the hair that I so desperately desired was to perm my hair. Basically, a perm is a chemical process used to break the natural bonds of the hairs’ structure, which should have taken my hair from straight to curly. However, the perm didn’t work, and neither did the other three that I got in those few months. 

Suddenly, I found myself with severely fried, damaged hair.  It probably didn’t help that I curled my hair with a hot iron every, single, day.  Looking back, you’d think that I would’ve stopped there, but I didn’t. Less than a month later, I was in the kitchen chair, as my mom laid the red box-dye over my blonde hair. The red turned my hair to an ugly shade of strawberry blonde. So, to combat the red-blonde, I dyed my hair dark brown. However, I became bored with the brown no sooner than it was done. Less than a month later, I was back to the salon for root touch-ups. I decided that multi-colored, thick-stripped, brassy copper and bleached blonde highlights. It was bad.  

By that point, about a year and a half had passed since I had cut 18 inches off my hair to the bad-highlight frenzy. I was approaching the last week of my summer before I returned to public school to begin my sophomore year. I needed a fix for my hair and fast. Running out of time and options, I cut my hair chin-length with layers and I dyed my hair a very dark brown. However, the color on the box and the color of my hair did not match.  

Due to the variety of different shades and chemicals that had previously been applied to my hair, the color came out blue-black mostly, and dark brown in some spots. I began my sophomore year looking sickly pale. To make matters worse, my eyebrows were a natural dark blonde and didn’t match. This forced me to draw on dark, fake looking eyebrows (luckily, block eyebrows were the norms at the time).  It probably didn’t help that I curled my hair with a hot iron every, single, day.  

I sported this look for about a year and a half. My hair needed to be dyed every month or so, and it became very expensive to keep up with it. Becoming exhausted and missing my natural hair, I bleached my hair twice.  

The bleaching was the worst and the best thing that I could have done. The bleach had taken the black color out of my hair but left my hair a brassy, copper, orange shade. It was very ugly, and it left me feeling like a carrot head.  

That was me two years ago. The bleach that had left my hair orange, was the last dye I had done to my hair. I left my hair to grow from that point on. I cut off the fried hair as it grew and left the summer to lighten my hair. Each trim was depressing, slowly and gradually cutting the dead hair that was being replaced with the new. This process kept my hair at the same length for a while. 

Now, I have let all my natural hair grow out. It has yet again, reached a medium length. I have recently permed it for some added body. I have decided to keep its natural color. 

As I take time to ponder over my hair, I realize just how much I have learned from this experience. I have learned the importance of appreciating what you have. The very hair that I was naturally gifted with, I didn’t appreciate. It was only after it was ruined, that I began to value it. I learned that damage can take minutes and last months, in some cases longer. It took a relatively short amount of time to dye my hair and years to grow out the color and damage. I learned the pros of cons of taking risks. I went from virgin hair to over-processed hair in a matter of months. Though I regret the damage that it had caused, reflecting now, I am glad in the sense of now I know not to make that same mistake again.  I learned that things don’t change overnight and the importance of determination and patience that goes with it. I had to wait years before my hair grew back to health and had to deal with length issues not being to my expectations for a while. I had to remain focused that the length would come back, that I would just have to be patient for the time being.  

Life is the same. I could be warned about something and choose not to heed the counsel. It could work out or I could have to endure the consequences. Life is a journey, a process. Nothing changes overnight, but rather gradually over the months and years. Every mistake cannot be avoided. Mistakes are inevitable. It is my response to the situation that I can control. I can become desperate and think short-term, as I did with the numerous dye processes, or I can be patient and think long-term, as I did when I decided to just give my hair time to take its course. It’s my choice, however, it is also my consequence.