I ended my first full week on another high note as I ventured out for my first solo meal as a baldie, leaving the comfort of last weekends social time with friends behind. It was just to one of my local spots for a bite but again somewhere that I have never been completely uncovered. Hats and wigs, yes…bald no.
I was just settling into my usual spot at the bar as I saw my friend Matt. We have known each other many years, our boys playing basketball together in high school and we have shared many an uncomfortable bleacher bench. (the back row is the best by the way should you find yourself in the bleachers a lot) Matt knew that I wore wigs but had never seen me bald and we’d never discussed my Alopecia. As he came over and I removed my touque, I could see he was a bit taken aback and we had a few moments where he avoided my gaze (or vise versa perhaps?) but we easily fell into old banter and catch up over our boys and life.
The rest of my evening was seamless and I realize the more I own the bald and feel confident as such the easier it is becoming. I am also letting go of how my baldness affects others, as I have often been concerned about it making them feel uncomfortable. Matt was visibly taken aback at first and the Empath in me would normally be affected by such, but instead I ignored the uncomfortable vibes allowing him to sort out his possible discomfort and choosing to stay in the power of my uncovered self.
The Tipping Point
The tipping point that led me on this journey was something very specific about my baldness and the choices I made around it that had begun to really bother me. It was a feeling deep within that nagged at me, not all the time but often enough for me to pay attention.
I’ve always had fun with the different colors, styles and personas of wigs. There is a small psychological difference wigs have on our behaviors and the kinds of people we attract. (Yes, I attract the attention of different men based on color and length of hair!) Everyone seems to have a preference, blonde, brunette, long, short.
One man I dated said he always felt a bit fearful when I appeared as the brunette Dayna, as she had a fierceness about her and figured he was up for a challenge in some way. Hehe. Blonde Dayna although equally smart and deep, is more playful, carefree and a tad softer. A gentleman at the gym once thought I was my own twin sister, as he’d seen one brunette one blonde. The practical joker side of me was tempted to let him believe this to be true. I never really embraced my inner redhead so can’t offer any insight into her at this time.
The fun part of wigs aside, for anyone who has ever faced the challenge of not having hair will attest it’s different when you want your own hair (or to be ‘normal’) and your body has other plans. As my journey evolved, I began to feel like I wasn’t being authentic by wearing wigs. In truth, I was hiding. The many awkward moments of having to explain about the hair loss, reinforced this, as I shared my story and wondered if I would be accepted. It was opening night every night and my value tied to the reviews, positive or negative.
I noticed this the most in my dating life. Meeting someone wearing a wig, then having to share that I look different. I always struggled about not only how and when to tell someone, but also if it was worth the risk (for me).
I know I am not the only one to struggle with this, and see it in my work with clients quite often. The fears and shames around our physical bodies and movement and the mirrors of the gym leaving few places to hide. I also see people put their lives on hold due to some of these feelings. I get it, I’ve done this too. Time’s up. Let’s get to owning who we are no matter our shape, size or amount of hair on our heads.
As challenging as these conversations are for me, excepting a few bad apples, I have been fortunate to be loved, accepted and celebrated as a baldie. I am grateful for all of the beautiful people I know that choose to look beyond the surface and embrace each other for what’s inside. As for the others, in the wise words of Dr. Suess…
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
What about you? Is there some area of your life that you’re struggling to be your authentic self? Please feel free to share.