People always say to me, "I just don't think I would have been able to handle it that way you did," and I think to myself, I probably would have thought the same thing too, but I don't think that's true. It's all about inner beauty anyways, isn't it? I mean, the outside, well it's all just "stuff." Noise. On the surface. A way to hide who we really are deep down.
You see, I was lucky. At age 20, I had a wake up call. A terrifying call that that was sudden and unexpected, that I was powerless over, and that resulted in a complete surrender. A surrender to the old me, who spent countless hours focusing and dwelling on petty things, on temporary things, on tangible things, on outward things, and on things that truly added no real meaning to my life.
The beginning of my college years were rough, full of ups and downs, and a constant desire of something better, something more fulfilling and genuine. I was never happy, and always found myself settling. I knew I wasn't happy, and I knew that the lifestyle I was living wasn't what I wanted, but I felt no way out.
When I lost my hair in the Spring of my sophomore year, I thought was it. The icing on the cake. The march to my funeral. Overwhelmed with feelings and emotions that I felt no one could understand or offer meaningful advice for, I turned to my blog as an outlet to sort out all of the thoughts going through my head that I felt helpless over. At first, I was a little hesitant to make my blog go viral, but it seemed to be the best way to let everyone know that I was now bald, but not sick, without having to explain to every individual each time I ran into someone at the gym or when someone asked if I had highlighted my hair.
I could not believe the response that was received from my blog, and was further encouraged to keep blogging about my progressions. People seemed so moved that I was able to find peace through my difficult time, and able to be so positive about it, but why does it take hair loss for us to realize that inner beauty always prevails?
When I first lost my hair, it wasn't that I felt awkward or uncomfortable with the way I looked, but more that I felt awkward knowing that people didn't always know how to act around me. So many times I would make eye contact with people at the gym, and before I could say hi, they would nervously turn away. Maybe they really just didn't recognize me, or maybe I should have said hi sooner, but I just couldn't help to think about what a petty thing this was. So I don't have hair follicles on my head and I look a little funny, but what good did my hair ever do me anyway? It added a good 5+ minutes to my shower, 20 to my getting ready time, and didn't offer any practical sort of application. I was still the same Laura.
What I learned, and I hope everyone else took from my blog, was that despite all of the things on the outside, when stripped down to our rawest form, who are we then? Are we still proud of the person that we are at the end of the day? Or do we surround ourselves with trivial things to protect ourselves from discovering what truly lies at the core of our being?
Losing my hair made me confront my true composition: what was real and what wasn't. What mattered and what didn't. What was temporary and what true. It didn't happen overnight, but sitting here, one year later, I can honestly say that losing my hair was the best thing that's ever happened to me. It wasn't pretty at first, and I will never fully be the person that I strive to be, but I can firmly say that my priorities, my values, and my overall outlook on life have changed dramatically since last year, and I don't think I would be where I am today if it wasn't for that wake up call that was Alopecia Areata.
So, today, on my one year anniversary as a proud wig owner, I encourage you to think about yourself in a similar scenario, or more-so, the metaphor that it represents. If you were stripped down to the core to find only the contents of your heart and soul, what would you look like?
Alopecia was a true reminder that it's never to late to change or be the person that deep down you really want to be. To be the person that, 3 years can now, 20 years from now, and 60 years from now you can look back and be proud of, and know that you did your best to treat people with kindness, to love from the bottom of your heart, to embrace all the beauty that life offers, and to truly seek to be the best person you can be, inside and out.
Happy one year, wig.