I remember it like it was yesterday.. it was Saturday afternoon and I was sitting in my room getting ready to un-braid my plats. I had been transitioning for almost 7 months now and I was getting ready for my weekly wash. My current transitioning style was to keep my hair flat braided back underneath a wig or half wig. This was my favorite protective style because at the time, I was a full time grad student and also working so my hair was not on my priority list.
As I began to take the braids out, I noticed my hair was extremely matted, tangled, and felt like it was knotting up! I was so frustrated because until now, I had never had a problem like this with my hair. I had thought about doing the big chop several times before now but I couldn't bring myself to do it; I would always talk myself out of it. I really wanted to go a year before doing the big chop. Without really giving it much thought, I found some scissors and began clipping. When I was done, I was like wow I really did it. I felt so liberated and fearless! I know I'm all about the theatrics but I felt different, like a new me. It's hard to explain but I did. The next thing I did was called my and sent pictures to all my girls who I had impulsively texted "I'm sick of the two textures, I'm doing the big chop"!
Then, sometime that night I instantly was hit with a wave of regret like OMG what have I done! What if my hair doesn't grow back? Will I be stuck wearing wigs for the rest of my life! What if I can't handle my natural hair.. I haven't seen it since I was 9 but before that I was having it pressed. All of these questions and emotions were running through my head. Looking back now, one year later I am so happy I did the big chop when I did. My hair really started to grow and flourish after I did. I remember my sister and soror Tiffany was reassuring me I did a good thing! I had to cut and get rid of the bad hair so new, healthy hair would grow! Was she ever right.
I would say the most challenging thing on my journey was learning what products worked best for my hair and my constant battle with dryness. I have finally won that battle but winter is another story I have not had to deal with. After I did my big chop, I wore wigs because I wasn't comfortable with the length of my hair. The majority of my journey I wore wigs as protective styles. I have a big round face and the short hair just made it look larger. I couldn't let my confidence get in the way of school, and my job so to feel my best I wore wigs. I did that because it was best for me! I wish I had the face for a short style but oh well.
Further along in my journey I began experimenting with different hairstyles and having fun being 'natural' and embracing my hair! I must be real with you all, I hated my hair at times. We all get the cases of 'curl envy' and I couldn't understand why my hair wouldn't do what the next gals hair would, etc. That's another thing to watch out for on you journey. Finally, wanting to give up was another challenge. I knew I could never go back to the perm, but I wanted to go to getting it pressed like I did when I was younger and risk never seeing my curls again. I'm happy to say I didn't give up. I got over the 'curl envy' and began setting short term realistic goals for myself.
My current goal is to reach my chin by the end of December! I'm currently touch my bottom lip in the front which you can see in the picture below. After all of the ups and downs, the wanting to give up and frustration feeling like my hair wasn't responding or growing, I can see it really has in comparison to my very first length check. Keep a record of your hair so you can see your progress! That has been a life saver. Now that I am a year natural, I'll only do length checks every 3 months instead of checking it every month.
The things I've learned over the year: have a set regimen and be consistent with it; keep your hair balanced with moisture and protein; what you eat is just as important as what you put on your hair; protective styling and low manipulation of your hair is key to length retention and growth; detangle, detangle, detangle; and take care of raged ends and single strand knots before they become a big problem!