Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Post Host! featuring Chelle from Everyday Polish

Welcome to a new feature at WIOG. Basically a "trading spaces" type of day where we invite another blogger to host-a-post. In the next 2 months, you will see posts from Chelle over at Everyday Polish every other week on Tuesdays. Enjoy!

How My Hair Journey Is Saving My Love Life: A Personal Reflection
Hey WIOG Fam! Happy to be back! In the spirit of February celebrating Valentine's Day and Love in general, I thought I'd share some reflections on how my personal hair journey has helped give me perspective on maintaining a healthy relationship. Screw Herbal Essences, I have never had a "Long-Term Relationship" with my hair. In fact, it's never even been an on/off relationship because to be honest, I've always hated it. I considered my "bad" hair a pre-arranged marriage I was forced into as a child and have cheated on it at every opportunity offered. Wigs, braids, weave, you name it and I have always been ready to jump ship and disclaim any connection to the rough, dry, nappy mess of hair I was born with!

Now my relationship with my boyfriend however is a completely different story... I fell in love with him at first sight. I know it's a stupid cliche, but it's true. So how is my hair journey saving my love life?? By teaching me several important lessons that relate to both hair and relationships. In the spirit of February celebrating Valentine's Day and Love in general, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned:

1) It takes Time, Work, and Patience: This one might seem obvious, but it still needs to be said. I spent so much of my life seeking a quick-fix for my hair (much like I've searched for a quick weight-loss fix), and I've come to accept that if I want to see positive changes in my hair, I have to put in the work and the time even when I don't feel like it. Well, the same goes for my relationship. It requires extra time, effort and expense and there are many days where I just want a quick-fix. Unfortunately, just like with my hair, trying to cut corners, getting angry that things aren't happening the way I want them to or attempting to ignore the problems altogether is NEVER a solution. Instead, it only leads to more problems. It's not easy but putting in the effort and trying to have patience now is the only way I've found that actually delivers success in the long run.

 2) Sometimes, You Should Just Keep it to Yourself: Who doesn't want to share when they're excited?? Growing up in a post-Sex and the City world, it's easy to fall prey to the belief that every detail of your life should be constantly gossiped about with your closest girlfriends who of course have hearts of gold and only want to see you happy. FALSE. Now, my girls are the best friends somebody could ever ask for and I love them all to pieces, but seriously? How many blogs/discussions do we see on the web by somebody frustrated about people hating on a hair journey, doubting their devotion to cowashing, JBCO or Biotin and generally putting down their efforts to improve their hair? It's not that these folks don't want to see you with pretty hair, it's just that they've had their own experiences which don't mesh with yours and so they may genuinely believe they know better than you do what will work for your hair. Clearly, anybody on a hair journey knows that it's an intensely personal experience and sometimes you just have to ignore these naysayers and keep doing whatever works for you.

 The same goes for relationships!!! Although I don't necessarily advocate taking it to a Bey/Jay extreme, I've had to learn the hard way that dishing out the intimate details of my loving, fighting and everything in-between does nothing but invite comments from the peanut gallery and encourage people to speculate and form opinions about things they truly know nothing about! The facebook group titled "A relationship should be between two people-not the whole world" has it completely right. I don't care if it's a mutual friend, your best friend or your momma, sometimes the best course of action to preserve your peace-of-mind (which in turn translates to a better relationship with your hair AND your hubby) while you figure out which method of navigating the tricky maze of love (and hair care) work for you. Now, obviously, I don't mean to discourage EVER seeking out a second opinion but just take the time to consider what you're sharing, who you're sharing it with and what their interests in your success are.

3) Sometimes, it's YOU...: I hate this one. I always want to blame him for every fight we have, or my products for every bit of breakage or shedding that I see, but the honest truth is that sometimes I'm the one who's messing up. I nag, I fuss, I neglect, I'm too rough...I'll let you figure out which verbs apply to my hair, and which apply to my relationship ;-) but the point is that sometimes the problem with the situation lies with my own shortcomings and I have to realize that and do whatever it takes fix it.

4) But, sometimes, it's NOT!: Yes, I know that there is nothing harder than giving away or throwing out that bottle of product after you've only used it a few times and it's still mostly full but seriously, if it's not working for you, nothing that you do will help the situation except to stop using it. Likewise, if he's rude, inconsiderate, lazy, not doing what it takes to keep you happy, etc. then you are not the problem and it's wrong to think that changing your behavior will necessarily lead to a change in his. It's easier to deal with men than with products because at least with him you have the option of communicating the problem and he may very well change, but if he doesn't than you have to know when enough is enough and realize that certain problems you can't address without his full cooperation and certain behaviors will never change unless he changes them. It's then that you have to decide if you're willing to put up with it or walk away. Another way that SATC has failed us is that it's made women the world over believe every man we love is Mr. Big and if we just stick it through his affairs, and bad treatment, in 10 years we'll get the ring. Now I love me some Mr. Big and I love my boyfriend with my whole heart, but I am proud to say that I've finally reached the place where I realize that if it's something I can't change and I can't live with, it's something I need to leave behind.

5) Mental-positive thinking is a MUST: I'll admit it, I've struggled with self-esteem issues my whole life. Never one of the "fly girls" growing up, often times it's still hard for me to look in the mirror and realize that staring is back at me is a beautiful, successful, accomplished young woman that any man would be lucky to call his girl. It's also been hard for me to ever accept that what's in my head has always gotten me further than what's on my head. I've been reduced to tears after a bad cut or relaxer and no recital of my resume or accomplishments was going to change the fact that "I'm ugly, I'm worthless, I'm horrible, etc." as I would recite to myself. The kind of effect that this sort of negative thinking has had on my hair and my relationship is unbelievable. It breeds all sorts of unnecessary insecurities which leads to crazy and unproductive behavior such as picking fights for no reason or constantly hiding under a weave. Solange Knowles said on Oprah after she cut her hair short that one of the reasons she did it was because she hated that feeling of being "less-than" without a weave, and it's sooo true!! Even though my actual hair hadn't changed much, without my weave I always felt weaker, or less beautiful and that affected how I felt about my own hair and how I treated it. With my boyfriend, whenever I didn't feel pretty enough, or good enough, I would take out that unhappiness on him, as though it was his fault that I didn't feel the way I wanted to feel. As I've grown however, I've learned to focus on taking charge of my own happiness. Okay, so my thighs feel fat today? I can accuse him of cheating on me with some skinny broad, or I can hit the yoga mat for an hour, feel amazing about how my thighs held me up during my poses and then put on those jeans (yeah those jeans ;-)) and head to a place that always makes me smile. Which do you think yields more positive results?? I've also started a compliment wall for myself, where I write the compliments people give me on post-its and put them up around my mirror, and it helps to see them and be reminded on those days when my reflection doesn't reveal all the fabulosity (thank you Kimora) that I'm finally starting to accept has been buried under my bitter-girl shell for years!

Being aware of my mental state and how it affects my attitude and behavior has made a huge difference in how I approach my hair journey and my relationship. My friends see a change, my boyfriend sees a change (and ladies, believe me when I tell you that has garnered ONLY positive results! ;-)) and I'm moving towards a much better place mentally, which is taking me to much better places in matters of the hair and the heart.

6) You Have to Switch It Up: Both men and hair get comfortable waaay too easily. That's why it's rare to find a single lady who hasn't had to switch up her regimen, rotate products or try something completely new in order to keep her hair the way she wants it as it gets to different lengths or just becomes too accustomed to the products she's been using. I've always known that Mr. Forever has the attention span of a three year old...with ADD...who isn't on Ritalin...and has OD'd on sugar...that has been laced with cocaine...okay, you get the idea. The point is, he gets bored easily, and nothing keeps things new like keeping him on his toes. It can be the slightest shift in appearance ("is that...eyeliner?"), behavior ("huh, you COOKED? Like...on the stove?") or attitude ('whoa, since when do you talk to me like that?") but switching it up makes it fun for me and keeps it interesting for him. It can be exhausting at times, but now I get almost as excited about surprising him with some new twist as I do about trying a new conditioner. And **ssshhhhh** I've learned that the secret is to never incorporate the switch into your regular routine because if your man's got a short enough attention span, it can be new over and over again!!! (As I pull out my three year-old "new" outfit for our next date night- throw on different shoes and he'll never recognize it!)

Now, I'm no relationship expert and who is to say my next post won't be entitled "Breaking Up-The Joys of Being Newly Single" but I truly believe that these realizations have helped me come a long way while I struggle through the equally complex and challenging worlds of a hair journey and a long-term, serious relationship. Visit me over at EP and let me know if you or agree with these thoughts!

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