So, I’m Sort of A Freelance Photographer Now…

It all started back in January; my job was hosting some events and needed someone to take photos of it. They already had a professional photographer, but they needed someone to take photos for live and scheduled social media postings. Everyone knew that I went to school for film (scriptwriting) and they have all seen my study abroad photos so I was a natural choice. I did that event for them, using their camera and then for the next event, I used my own camera. I was using my Mirrorless Nikon 1 J4 to take the photos. I did another event where I was the second shooter and my images were used for promotional work. After that, I was hired on to do some non-work-related event photography and I even took some portraits for a media kit.

Up until all that happened, I’d never thought about photography as a second job or a career choice. I’ve always loved photos. I collect them, like a weirdo. I draw inspiration for my stories from the images I collect. In fact, I had 25GB worth of images on my old computer. I’d accumulated those photos over a decade span, but still, that’s a lot of photos.

When I started traveling, I realized I really liked taking photos to document things. So, if you ever get a peek at my travel photos, not the ones that I post, but the ones that are saved on my computer, you’d see pictures of everyday things. Photography turned into a hobby of mine. I had to take classes that covered basic photography when I was in college because of what I studied. I also was part of the photography club on campus, but again, I’d never thought about photography as a possible job until people actually started paying me to take photos. It’s silly, I know. Someone really had to say, “Here, take my money,” before I thought about the financial benefits of photography.

But once I started thinking about the possible financial benefits, I immediately wanted to better myself.  So, I went back to school… sort of… I took some online courses on photography from sites like Lynda and Skillshare (although I do not like Skillshare and I would not recommend it, the class I took was excellent). YouTube is also a great place to learn new things. There is a tutorial for everything and I needed tutorials for Lightroom and Photoshop. I also upgraded my camera. I went from my Mirrorless Nikon 1 J4 to my DSLR Canon 80D and yes, I did cry a little bit on the inside when I bought it. I cried out of excitement and out of fear because I knew I’d just spent a lot of money on something that may or may not make the money back. And I’m a stickler for at least breaking even, even on passion projects such as this.

I think I’m going to add a Photography section to this website to keep you updated on what I’m doing with my photography. I have two upcoming photo shoots and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Back At It Again

I know that some of you started following me because this started off as a blog about writing, and then it started talking about traveling with a little bit of lifestyle content thrown into the mix. And then all of the sudden, the writing content stopped. There was a little travel content here and there, but it mostly became a lifestyle blog.

Let me tell you what happened…

My friend died.

Some of you who started following me because of my writing content may have noticed I haven’t done a full blog post about writing since around August or September of 2017. At that time, I was growing frustrated with my “current” work in progress because I was overwriting. My original word count was supposed to be around 85,000 words but I was starting to believe the story would really end up being around 110,000 words.  Yeah, that was a big baby. I know. But the real issue with the story was that there was just too much content. All the stuff that was there was needed information told in a way that wasn’t direct exposition. I was introducing too many of my plots at once. So I decided to take a month off from writing. I was supposed to use that time to figure out how to trim down my bloated first act or simplify the entire story.

By October, a very close friend of mine had died. His death was life altering for me because I always felt he was the one that got away. I live in North America and he lived in South America. We met during his high school study abroad experience. We became friends the moment he sat down next to me in French class. We started walking to and from school together because of how close we lived to each other. We became inseparable that year, with all of our inside jokes and shared curiosity.

Over the years, throughout high school and college, we stayed in touch. His death destroyed me because he was my biggest regret. I regretted the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to let him know how I felt when we were younger. By the time we were in college, we’d talked about things and even tried to visit each other once or twice. But he was in med school in Brazil and I was studying film in the U.S.

He was only 21 and cancer had stolen him.

Unbeknownst to him, he had leukemia.

My mother is currently in remission from the same type of cancer that killed him.

He was almost done with medical school.

He’d just delivered his first baby in May 2017. I can still see the photo of him smugly grinning as he carefully cradled a newborn baby; he and his instructor dressed in matching light blue scrubs and hair caps. That image will forever be burned into my mind because it’s the last smiling image I saw of him before the waves of “condolences” and “gone too soons” crashed against my computer screen, sending me into a black hole of depression that made me abandon social media for two weeks and writing for five months.

I failed NaNoWriMo not because I was busy, but because I couldn’t write. I had no creativity left in me. The story was dead. All I could think about was what this world had lost. We’d lost someone who was trying to do something good for the world. We’d lost someone who knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. I’d lost someone I’d loved and I knew I’d loved him because, outside of my father’s death, I’d never felt so hollowed by the news of death.

And so, after five months, I finally seemed to have recharged. For the first time in five months, story ideas are organically germinating in my mind. For the first time in five months, I feel like I have agency in my life and I’m not faking it.

 

Lazy Natural Hair Routine

It’s no secret that I’m a lazy natural. I have a certain philosophy about my hair that I adopted from my journalism courses: KISS.

Keep

It

Simple

Stupid

And that is exactly what I do with my hair. People always ask me what do I do to my hair to get it to grow and I always tell them “nothing”, because I’m being honest. I do the least amount of work on my hair and it flourishes because my hair (like a lot of people’s hair) benefits from low manipulation. And low manipulation isn’t just about styling, it’s also about how you take care of your hair. So, in this post, I’m going to “keep it simple, stupid” and tell you all about my lazy hair routine.

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So I start by sectioning off my hair into four sections. My hair is thick and it shrinks a lot so working in sections has been my way of not overwhelming myself. And it also makes it easier to distribute product evenly throughout my hair.

I soak each section with water first, before applying my shampoo to my roots/scalp. I massage my scalp and then rinse the shampoo out and put the hair back into its ponytail. I do that to the remaining 3 sections and then I add conditioner to my hair and I let it sit for about 10 minutes. I rinse the conditioner out of my hair and place the hair back into the ponytails and then I towel dry my hair with a microfiber towel. I pat the hair that’s laying on my scalp and I squeeze the hair that’s hanging from the ponytail.

The next step is to detangle and style. I start with one section, add a leave-in conditioner to my hair and detangle with a wide-tooth comb. I then add olive oil to that section and start to style it. My go-to style is a twist out. So I normally just twist up that section and then move on to the next section and let it air dry. The next morning, I untwist and rock.

Every 3 weeks I do a deep conditioning treatment but the process is pretty similar. Instead of conditioning my hair, I do the deep conditioning treatment and leave it in for 15 minutes after I finish putting it all in my hair. I rinse it out and then proceed with the rest of the wash day routine.

Voila! It’s so simple, anyone can do it.

 

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Making Better Choices

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about my 8 goals for this year. One of those goals was weight loss. I know. I know. That is so basic. It’s always on everyone’s list. It’s the worst repeat offender of all time. But when I put something on my to-do list, I do it and that’s all a New Year’s resolution list is. It’s just a big to-do list stretched out over the course of the year. In February, I took some time to re-evaluate myself and my lifestyle. I’ve never been a super active person, mostly because of how uncoordinated I am but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that working out is essential to a long healthy life. So, I work out. I do 1 hour of cardio three times a week and 30 minutes of resistance training four times a week. Plus, I walk everywhere because I don’t have a car. Yes, my legs are very strong.anigif_enhanced-buzz-9965-1402961405-27

But even with me doing all of this, I wasn’t really losing weight. I was staying toned but I was dropping weight at a glacial pace. What gives?

This made me re-examine my diet. Overall, my diet is good. I used to make the joke that I’m chubby because of my love of ice-cream. Over the course of a two-week experiment, I realized that it was actually true. I am chubby because I love ice-cream. Here, let me explain a bit.

Once February hit, I started taking this whole “30 lbs weight loss” thing seriously, so I started making adjustments to my eating habits. My normal diet was never really bad, it was just lacking a few key ingredients like…vegetables. So, I’ve been adding more of those into my meals.

I’ve also been snacking better. Instead of eating junk food when I’m craving something small but comforting, I’ve started snacking on fruit such as apple slices with peanut butter and plain/vanilla yogurt with granola and fruit. When I’m making a salad, instead of buying the garden salad mix which is basically just iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots, I started buying bags of expensive leaves. Yes. I said leaves. I’m talking about kale, spinach, chard, and arugula. I feel like I’m being ripped off because they honestly look like leaves I can find during the summer time on the trees outside my house, but I digress. I still eat my salads with ranch dressing but I no longer add the cheese and the croutons and all that extra stuff. I do eat my salads with baked chicken and I can attest to the fact that it tastes amazing.

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I also gave up ice-cream or more accurately, broke up with it. I used to eat ice-cream every single day as if it was its own food group. The only reason my weight didn’t balloon out of control was probably due to my workout schedule. I still eat ice-cream but it’s not allowed in the house. And if it is in the house, it has to be one of those pint-sized containers. I read an article about getting unhealthy food out of your reach. For me, I really enjoy ice-cream so it recommended that I didn’t have it in the house. If I wanted it, I had to go out and buy it. For ice-cream, that means I either have to buy it in the pint-size containers (so there isn’t any left for the next day) or I have to go out to an ice-cream parlor. Both of these options are kind of pricey if I do it multiple times a week, so I know I’d be able to stick to this rule. I hate wasting money.

Over the course of two weeks (even without me working out) I lost a noticeable amount of weight. I’m currently working on revamping my workout routine as well so I can maximize my time and get the best results. I really want to lose the weight but I also want to make sure I can keep it off and live a healthy life. So, I’m not going to do anything crazy or stupid to lose the weight. I’ll keep you updated on my journey. I’ll start posting pictures once I go down a pant size.

Why Don’t We Talk About Finances​?

Why is everyone so afraid to talk about finances? I grew up in a home that didn’t really talk about it as if it was “grown folks” business. It wasn’t until I was deemed old enough (senior year of high school) that my dad opened up to me about our family finances. The discussion we had was eye-opening because, for most of my life, I didn’t think we were bad off, financially.

I grew up living a simple life. We lived in a six bedroom, one bath, full basement, 3 story house that had belonged to my grandparents and was passed down to my dad. Our neighborhood wasn’t that bad, but as the decades went on, the neighborhood started taking on more and more negative connotations. We always had food and we always had clothing, a running car, and heating during the winter. We didn’t have central air, but that was because the house was a turn-of-the-century home and the remodeling would have cost too much. We had air conditioners and steel fans for St. Louis’ hot summer days. When I think about my childhood, I remember big Christmas celebrations,  birthdays, annual trips to amusement parks and even out-of-state field trips. If I asked for something, my parents always delivered it. Luckily for me, I didn’t ask for things often, so it was never really a burden on them.

But all of this was a lie. A carefully constructed lie. My family never tried to act like we were big ballin’ or whatever, but at the same time, I was purposefully kept in the dark on financial matters. During my senior year of high school, while I was applying for colleges, my father had a frank discussion with me about our finances. We were working poor. I would say we were working class but that would imply that there was money stashed away somewhere in a 401K or we had investments or something like that when in reality, we were working poor. We didn’t live paycheck to paycheck. We lived every three paychecks to paycheck.

My dad explained it to me like this: he could miss two pay periods and everything would be fine but if he missed the third one, one of the bills wasn’t going to get paid. My father was a master saver but he was a man with a family and he was the only person working. He had three kids and a wife that couldn’t really work due to the aftermath of chemotherapy and leukemia. Don’t get me wrong, my mom can work, but working a fulltime job would destroy her body. She has an extremely weak immune system and her joints are all messed up from the chemotherapy and leukemia. That all started when she was in her early thirties and still continues to this day. So my dad shouldered the burden of everything and became the sole provider for our family. We were staying afloat until the 2008 recession hit.

After two years without work, both of my parents finally re-entered the part-time workforce. Well, my dad started off as a full-time manager but because the economy was still so shaky, he slipped into part-time work and that led to another job, and that led to another job. Things were tough. By 2012, he and I were having frank discussions about our finances. My dad was of the generation that still believed that a college education was the gateway to wealth or at least financial stability. And since a fair and good education was something that my family was denied (my parents, aunts, and uncles all grew up before or during the civil rights movement) they always encouraged me and my siblings to do well in school and pursue higher education. College was seen as a gateway out of poverty.

During my freshman year of college, my father died from cancer. His battle only lasted for three months but it depleted all of his savings and the money I’d been saving while in school. It left us paying off medical bills, property taxes, and funeral fees. My father had insurance, it just didn’t cover cancer… Isn’t life great? But that’s neither here nor there. After his death, I ended up taking out more student loans because my dad was no longer giving me money for school. After four years at a private university, I raked up $38,000 in student loan debt. I know, your eyes just kind of glazed over, right? Originally, I was on track for $32,000 in loans, which would have put me closer to the national average, but I just had to study abroad (I say sarcastically). But in all fairness, I don’t regret studying abroad, I just wish I would have planned for it, starting in my freshman year, instead of doing it as an impulse thing the summer before my senior year.

But yeah, I’m $38,000 in debt and I’m not freaking out. Mostly because all of my loans are federal loans, President Obama made sure I wouldn’t be screwed over by the interest rates (Thanks, Obama!) and I plan to get an actual job. I’m working part-time, making peanuts, but I recently went through the process of ALMOST getting my first professional job. In this case, almost really doesn’t matter but at the same time, it does. It let me know that even with my very small job history, my degree allowed me to make it to the very last hiring stage of a job that would have started me off on a salary of $35,000-$37,000 a year. I really wanted that job but the whole experience just made me grateful went to college. It let me know that my degree isn’t worthless and that it can open doors that can lead to high paying careers and that made owing $38,000 in student loans a little less scary. It also made me believe that maybe my dad was right to believe that college really can be a gateway out of poverty. It just takes time.

Happy Birthday To My Blog!

Today is my blog’s first birthday. I’m so excited. Looking over all of my posts I can see a change in myself. I’m no longer the wide-eyed college kid who was constantly worrying about my future. Now,  I’m a working adult, trying to further my writing career.

At the beginning of January, I was promoted to a management position at the job I’ve been working at for less than a year. This is a big deal for me because I didn’t get my first job until I was in college. My first job was a secretarial job so I’ve never tried to venture far from that. Even with my current job, it relies heavily on customer service and data entry. All of the other jobs that I’ve applied to, in my search for a second job, have been secretarial as well because I was afraid to expand my horizon. It wasn’t until I realized I was undervaluing myself, my skills, and my education that I truly started making changes.

I’ve never seen myself as a natural leader. I’ve always been the leader who stepped up when no one else would but that has changed and I honestly think it’s because of this blog. Writing down my experiences and sharing them with you has inspired me to do better–to do more. So, I’m very thankful for this blog. It has changed the way I feel about myself and the way I approach problems in my professional and personal life. I look forward to another wonderful year with you. May we all grow as people and prosper in all of our aspirations in 2018.

Eight Goals For 2018

Hey everyone, welcome to 2018. Another year has come and gone and with the changing of the year, comes new goals and new achievements.

Here are my eight goals for 2018…

1. Lose 30 lbs

I know, I know. It’s a bit cliche but weight loss is a goal of mine this year but until like most people, I have an actual quantitative goal here. Plus, I started my weight loss journey last year when I went from a size 16 to a size 14. I think it’s super important to have an tangible weight or size in mind when trying to lose weight. It makes the process not so mysterious. There are tons of people who want to lose weight and get fit but because their goal is so aloof they never achieve anything because they never have a set goal to reach. I also think it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself when it comes to weight loss. Losing 30 lbs is very doable over the span of a year. It’s actually doable in the span of 3 to 4 months but that requires a lot of dedication and focus.

2. Read More Books

I haven’t read a book for fun in four years. I know, that’s crazy, right? I used to devour books but college killed that for me. I had to do a lot of reading for school, whether it was literary novels, textbooks, screenplays, articles from pretentious scholarly journals, or non-fiction books. By the time I was done with those, I was burned out and didn’t want to do anything but watch movies and television, which wasn’t all bad because that helped me with my studies. But I would like to get back into the habit of reading for fun again, especially genre fiction.

3. Make More Meaningful Connections

I’ve touched on this subject before on the blog. I want to make more friends but I want these relationships to be more meaningful. I’m still young so in theory, it should be easy for me to find people to link up with. But I’m starting to realize not all friendships are genuine. Sure, I was aware that there are some friendships that exist purely out of envy. This is where you get the frenemies complex. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I went through a lot of personal stuff last year and when I really needed people to lean on, the people I considered my closest friends didn’t even reach out. It was the first time in a long time that I honestly felt like I was alone and I was really hurt by it all because I’m usually the emotional support in my group of friends. To know I couldn’t receive that same support, especially when I rarely ask for it, made me see my friends in a very different light. And so, developing more meaningful connections is a major goal of mine for 2018.

4. Write More

This one is very self-explanatory. At the beginning of each year, I always set a goal for myself in regards to the amount or types of creative pieces I create. This year, I would like to write at least two novels and a screenplay. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. As long as I keep to my deadlines, this should be pretty achievable. I just have to stay motivated and plan accordingly.

5. Take A Trip

I’m really trying to focus on saving money this year, so I don’t plan on doing a lot of travel but I would like to take at least one trip this year.

6. Take More Chances

I’m a pretty cautious person. I’ll even admit to being an overthinker but this year, I would like to put myself out there more. You know, engage in some crazy activity and be more socially adventurous especially since my physical location isn’t going to change much this year. This also goes hand in hand with developing more meaningful relationships. I really want to have a more exciting social life. I sometimes feel like I’m all work and no play. I want to change that.

7. Find A Job

Well, actually, I have a job but it’s not in my degree field which is understandable because I have a scriptwriting degree and I don’t live in California or a very big city for that matter. St. Louis is a hub for start-up companies that relocate the moment they get enough funding. We’re not a bustling city and the only work I could probably find St. Louis with my scriptwriting degree would be in theatre because we actually have a decent theatre scene here, but I dislike writing stageplays. The world is cruel and full of irony.m, I know. After some serious thought, I realize I’m selling myself short. Sure, my degree focuses primarily on writing for film and television but I also had to take the same core curriculum as the students that majored in journalism, public relations, and mass communications. If I can’t find a screenwriting position in St. Louis, maybe I should search for a job in one of the related industries.

8. Stop Doubting Myself

This is a big one for myself and it’s also going to be the hardest to achieve for several reasons. It’s easy to achieve goals such as travel, writing, or job hunting but it’s much harder to achieve goals that depend solely on your inner self. There is nothing I can work towards. Nothing I can plan. Nothing I can save for. This is a goal that has to be achieved based solely on my ability to believe in myself.

Winter Update: Writing, Pinterest, ​and YouTube

What I’ve Been Up To

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted much this December, it’s because I’ve been very busy. I’ve been working on myself. Improving my mind. Expanding my knowledge. I’ve been working on building steady traffic for this blog, which means I had to learn more about marketing. So I’ve done that and have seen a steady rise in organic traffic for the blog. Although my numbers are nothing to brag about, I’m excited anyway. This proves that what I’ve been doing is working and that I should keep at it.

I’m a very visual person so I created a Pinterest account. If you have free time or already use Pinterest please check mine out. The link can also be found at the bottom of the screen next to the other social media icon(s). I have boards on things I’m interested in such as writing, world building, traveling, beauty, etc. I’m just getting started and once I really get the hang of it, I’m going to go crazy on there. I even used it a few days ago to get ideas for a work Christmas party that I’m going to.

YouTube

I’ve also been very busy because I decided to start a Youtube channel. I don’t have that all planned out yet, but I do have a few videos up. This all came about when I was sitting at my computer, avoiding my writing and I started looking through all the documents on my computer. I recently did a big software update so a lot of my apps on my computer still had the blue dots hovering just above the icon because they hadn’t been opened yet. Since I was already killing time, I decided to open all the apps and see what was new. One of the apps was iMovie, where I have all the footage from my study abroad trip. I started watching some of the footage and found myself reminiscing. I decided it was finally time to edit the footage and finish what I started. After I had two videos edited, I decided I should post them. That’s when the idea for a Youtube channel started.

Right now I have a few Vlogs up and they’re all about various trips I took why I was in Europe but as I create more content, the Youtube channel will look much like this blog. The content will be split between writing, travel, and lifestyle. I might start posting videos on the blog as well, but they will always be accompanied by text. Most cases, there will be a companion article post with the video. The video and text will be similar but they will not be word-for-word because no one wants to read a transcript for leisure. Sometimes, particularly for my Traveling Thursdays posts, I might post a video with a paragraph or two explaining the video and summarizing what is happening in the video but it will not be text heavy.

Writing

I haven’t done any posts about writing in a while and that’s because I stopped writing for a bit. My personal life became really complicated, my professional life became really complicated, and I just couldn’t get my story together. So I stopped. I was planning on forcing myself to do NaNoWriMo but I was hired to do some technical writing so November did not go as planned. After that happened I decided to take a step back and just start a brand new idea. I kept my three central characters because they were completely developed and I didn’t want to waste them. But I’ve been spending December coming up with ideas for stories. This means I’ll be back to writing in January and the writing posts will return.

What have you been up to, lately?

My Natural Hair Journey

Tiny disclaimer: Everyone has natural hair if you have not chemically altered the texture of your hair but for the purpose of this article, I’m focusing on being part of the Natural Hair Movement which was created mainly for Black people but includes other POC because we have been historically (and currently) discriminated against due to our natural hair textures and forced to assimilate to a more Eurocentric beauty standard.

Introduction

 

Legend has it, I was born with so much hair that the doctors had to cut it in order to see my face. I was born back in 1995 to two loving Black parents. When I was growing up little girls still wore puffs, beads, and barrettes but it was the 90s so a lot of us also wore braids. Some of the braided styles used our own hair and some used synthetic extensions but the styles were still child-friendly.

 

 

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Me as a baby

 

When I was around 6 or 7 my mom found out she had leukemia and she became very ill and was hospitalized. During her hospital stay, my dad had to do my hair and let’s just say things didn’t go so well. He was trying his best, but every morning we’d have to wake up early to press (thermally straighten with a pressing comb, very similar to flat ironing) my hair in order to get it into the styles that he was used to seeing. After a few months both him and I were tired of him accidentally burning me and yanking my hair out. So, after talking it over with my mom and cousin, he decided it was time to relax (chemically straighten) my hair to make things easier on all of us.

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My parents on their wedding day

 

Childhood

Because I was so young when all of this happened and we didn’t take a lot of photos back then, I started to forget what my natural hair texture looked like. And as time went on, I never thought too hard about the whole thing either, but that’s a discussion for a different post. By the time I was in middle school relaxing my hair was normal and it was a normal process for all the Black girls and parents around me. In fact, it was very rare to see someone with free-flowing natural hair. I was used to seeing people with dreads/dreadlocks/locs and even older people with the “scholarly” short, grey/salt and pepper ‘Fro but I didn’t see many people with Natural hair the way I see them today.1

From the time my hair was relaxed, all the way up to high school, I didn’t have any major problems with my hair. It was thick (for relaxed hair) and it was a decent length. The only thing that upset me was that it wouldn’t grow past my shoulders. I was the girl who always had her hair braided; that’s probably why I never experienced any real hair problems with relaxing my hair. But while my hair was braided, my hair would grow about 2 inches but I would never retain that length when we relaxed my hair again.

 

Transition

Fast forward a bit; the year is 2013 and I just graduated from high school. During that summer, my parents and I were getting me ready to move onto campus and everything was going fantastic until my mom asked me what I’m was going to do with my hair. What she really meant by that was, “Who is going to relax your hair?” I had never relaxed my own hair; my mom usually did it and on a rare occasion my Aunt Nykyta would pay for me to spend the day at a beauty salon she favored. Something as simple as styling my hair sent us into a tiny panic although it seemed minor, it really wasn’t. It was more than a beauty/cosmetic problem, it was a cultural problem. We were already aware that Webster Groves was a really White county (I ended up finding out it was close to 98% White during a school project) and we knew there would be no shops, stores, or salons that catered to Black beauty needs and it would probably be hard to find a Black student I trusted enough to relax my hair. In retrospect, I now know that wouldn’t have worked either because during my freshman year I had classes in which I was the only person of color in the room. Let that sink in a bit.

 

So I spent my summer before college trying to figure out a way to solve my problem. I ended up joining Tumblr that summer as well and I can honestly say it changed my life. When I got on there, I kept seeing beautiful Black women with really long hair. Some of it was straight and some of it was puffy Afros. At first, I thought they were wigs until I started clicking on the tags and following links. That’s how I discovered the Natural Hair Movement. I was intrigued by it and I’ll be honest with myself and you all, I really wanted to know more about it because I kept seeing all of these Black women with beautiful, healthy, LONG hair. I discovered Curly Nikki and then I took my search to Youtube and that’s what solidified it for me. I knew I was going to go Natural. That was it. I was done. My radical college change had already started. It wasn’t a radical body change, religious awakening or debunking, or personality swap. For me, the biggest change I underwent was my hair and that did influence my overall personality, but that is a discussion for a different post.

I told my mom and dad what I wanted to do and they were sort of on board. Remember, this was 2013, and although the Natural Hair Movement started gaining steam in 2009 a) I was in the Midwest and b) it hadn’t hit its saturation point yet so at the time we still had people who were very unaware of it. There were no commercials with Black families rocking Natural hair, there weren’t as many Natural hair products available as there is now, and there were no discussions on who was part of the movement and who was being excluded. This was 2013, there were things available to us, but we were all still fumbling around.

 

I went to college rocking some very large and heavy box braids with the intent to grow my hair out and cut the relaxed ends, little by little, over the course of a year. During the first seven months of school, I struggled to maintain both textures of my hair. I wore my hair in semi-curly styles using Flexi rods and braid outs. My hair looked a hot mess but at least I was happy. My mom faked the happiness but my dad flat out told me the truth but at the time I couldn’t see the truth because of the way he’d stated it. During my trips back home, I had to flat iron my hair straight in order to avoid conversations I didn’t want to have, and even straightening my hair looked bad because my roots would puff up so quickly and I wasn’t used to styling my own hair. But at least it was growing, that’s all that mattered to me.

CIMG1847

The longest my hair grew while transiting from relaxed to natural

 

Eventually, though, my mom grew fed-up with it and decided to “help” me out. She offered to trim my ends to even it out because I’d started experiencing split ends due to the constant flat-ironing and the two textures. Instead of just trimming my ends or evening out my hair, my mom gave me a big chop. She cut off my relaxed ends and left me with about 4 inches of Afro-textured hair so it looked like it was about 2 inches of hair. I cried like a baby. But this was a teachable moment because since she cut my hair back in 2014, no one else has cut my hair. I learned how to cut my own hair because of that incident. But anyway, back to the story. After she cut it she braided my hair up into a bun with some braiding hair and the next weekend, I used my paycheck to get my hair professionally braided. I was natural.

 

Natural

 

15

My natural curl pattern

After about two and a half months, I took my braids down and my hair had grown out a bit. I started styling it but found that I had a different hair texture than what I thought I did. At first, I was disappointed but within a month or two, I was fine, and a few months later, I loved my hair. For my dad’s funeral, I straightened my hair but halfway through the process, I stopped because something didn’t feel right. I washed my hair and thought everything was fine. I even styled it in a curly style and thought it looked fine. But as my hair started to grow more, I realized I had heat damage right around my right temple. It wasn’t extreme but it was noticeable when my hair was down so I started styling my hair in more pinned up styles.

 

 

During these months, I also discovered that I’m protein sensitive. That means I can’t use products that are high in protein because it makes my hair dry like straw and my hair starts to break off. Discovering this made me simplify my hair routine. Instead of using products that said things like “made with olive oil” or “made with shea butter” I just started using the actual thing that enticed me to buy it in the first place. For example, I now use olive oil in my hair care routine. It caused me to stop buying so many products and it made the whole process cheaper. In fact, on a standard wash day, I now only use about 4 hair products. 5 if you count water as a product.

 

Over the course of my sophomore year, I was slowly cutting my hair to cut out the damaged parts. During the winter is when I stopped cutting and my hair finally started to visibly grow. In some of my photos it almost looks like I’m a chia pet because the growth seemed so sudden but in reality, I just stopped cutting my hair. This is really when my healthy hair journey started and I started to see growth, both in myself and in my hair. Over the years, I’ve done blowouts to show progress and I’ve learned how to style my hair a lot of different ways but I haven’t tried straightening it since the heat damage incident. And I haven’t tried to dye it either, out of fear of damaging it. I’m hoping that 2018 will be the year that I become fearless.

 

My Natural Hair Timeline

  1. I transitioned from August 2013–March 2014
  2. Big chopped March 2014
  3. Heat damage by June of 2014
  4. My second transition starts June 2014–January 2015
  5. Healthy Hair January 2015–Now
  6. I’ve been Natural for 3 years and 9 months and I’m about 4 inches away from meeting my goal of waist-length hair.

What is your Natural hair story?