In the post titled The Worst Part of the Going Bald Process, I mentioned that I had two options: accept my hair loss or hide from it.
Changing it (as in preserving my hair) was no longer an option. Natural remedies didn’t work, Propecia gave me severe side effects, Rogaine doesn’t actually cure baldness, and there was absolutely no way I was getting a hair piece or hair transplant surgery.
Hide it is what I did for a while. As long as I could in fact. I used shampoos that gave volume. I got frequent hair cuts. I carefully arranged my hair in the mirror each day. But at some point, you reach a threshold. You are backed into action.
Before I talk about accepting my hair loss, let’s figure out what exactly acceptance means.
I could have shaved my head and become depressed and anti-social. This happens to some people. They avoid social situations, their friends, family, and going out in general because they are self-conscious about their image. In this case, they haven’t accepted their hair loss. They’ve taken action, but they have not embraced the consequences.
For many people, however, shaving your head is transformative in a positive way. This was true for me.
When I shaved my head, I had just arrived in the West African country of Mali. I had been considering shaving my head for a while, but the temperature in Mali is what drove me over the edge. A shaved head sounded a lot like natural air conditioning to me. I went into a roadside shack and got it all buzzed off for 70 cents.
Looking in the mirror was strange. It takes a while to get used to a drastic change in your appearance. But I immediately felt indescribably liberated. I ran my hand over my head and a huge smile cracked across my face. It definitely helped with the heat, but this fact quickly became secondary to everything else: I felt free from the anxiety of going bald.
It’s sort of like jumping into a swimming pool. Before you do it, the anticipation gives you anxiety. Your brain struggles to realize what the experience will actually be like. There is an element of The Unknown. This causes fear and anxiety. It can convince you that jumping is a bad idea. But if you do it, if you take the leap, you feel exhilarated and free. It is incredible.
It’s true that I was in a foreign land where I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have any friends or family who would see me and unleash a “oh my god! what have you done!!” I was insulated. But I would face them soon enough. People talk about travel being a form of escape. But I think traveling somewhere can actually produce a nurturing environment for profound change. In a future post, I will talk about this more: travel as a means for change, and how to deal with family and friends after taking the plunge.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/somegeekintn/
If you enjoyed this post, check out my How to Deal with Hair Loss ebook. It details my personal story of beating male pattern baldness, explains all the options for dealing with hair loss, and offers concrete tips and strategies for getting over it and building confidence.