Another year or so and then there started to be more grays. I realized I couldn't keep pulling them out. But I was having fun with hair color still every now and then, so most of the time they didn't show. I mostly had one streak of gray that was getting denser, but it only showed when I pulled all my hair back and when I had gone a long time without coloring. My blond best friend started saving her old dark brown mascaras for me so I could swipe a little on my streak when it started showing too much. Problem solved.
Then my senior project in college happened. It was a bit of a stressful semester. There were some all-nighters. I can't prove it, but it seems like I had quite a few more gray hairs when it was all said and done. And I wasn't all that okay with that.
I mean, I wanted to be confident about my natural hair. Really I did. But I was 21 years old. I was single. I was already the 5'10" electrical engineering major who talked too loud. I already stuck out like a sore thumb. It was already hard enough feeling attractive and getting dates. I just wasn't ready to add "...with the premature gray hair" to the list. Sometimes I wished I could rock a "gray streak." But I wasn't sure if my gray streak (or my self-confidence) was strong enough to make the gray interesting instead of just vaguely "off" and dorky.
So I decided that I would just dye my hair a little more frequently, at least while I was still part of the singles/dating scene.
Fast forward a little and I was married and still in my early-to-mid 20's. M knew I dyed my hair and we chatted about it a bit and I decided that I still wasn't ready to stop dyeing my hair. Someday maybe... but not yet. I decided that I just didn't want to be in my 20's with gray hair, so I would keep dyeing it at least until I turned 30. Then I'd re-evaluate.
Fast forward some more and I was 30. I still didn't feel ready to be gray. Now the problem was that everyone already thought I was so much older than I was. Having gray hair would only make it worse! Plus the transition was going to be so hard!
But the more I chewed on the thought in the back of my mind, the more I knew the time was coming. Eventually I would stop dyeing my hair. I just had to figure out when. It was never going to be easy. There would always be an excuse not to. So I started focusing on the reasons to do it.
There are a lot of reasons I want to stop dyeing my gray:
#1 - This is the hair God gave me. I don't want to be fake. It was so freeing a few years ago when I finally accepted that my hair was wavy/curly. I stopped trying to pretend to have straight hair and I finally learned to love the hair texture I had. I want the same thing to happen with my hair color.
#2 - I'm tired of all the money I'm dumping into maintaining an illusion. It's one thing to spend money to do something "fun" with your hair, but spending money just to make your hair unremarkable is so lame.
#3 - Also, the time. I'm sick of the TIME I spend getting my hair dyed. I'd much rather spend it doing something worthwhile. Or even just sleeping.
#4 - I want variations in my color without having to highlight. I look at the amazing red highlights the sun gives my mother's natural hair color and the blonde highlights in my sister's natural hair color and I envy all that gorgeous variation. Maybe I would get highlights from the sun too if I wasn't so busy covering my gray?
#5 - I want to remember what the natural color and texture of my hair is when it hasn't been dyed. Because honestly I'm not sure.
#6 - I want to see what my gray looks like. Where are my "silver highlights"? Is it everywhere? Is it just framing my face? How uniform or how chunky is it? The suspense is killing me! It's not often to we get to surprise ourselves! ;)
#7 - I am blessed to not have to convince anyone that I'm young. I'm happily married and I'm not competing in the workplace. If I look older than I am, why would it really matter? (Still working on believing this one.)
#8 - I'm not a granola or something, but I kinda don't love the idea of pouring all those chemicals onto my head all the time.
#9 - I'm not ready to burn my bra or anything, but I do like the idea of taking a stand against the false standards of beauty and youth that our society is enslaved to. And one of those standards is hair color. What's wrong with gray hair?
#10 - The longer I wait, the harder it will be. The more gray I have, the more often I will have to get it dyed if I want to hide it. (More money, more time, more chemicals, etc.) And the more obvious it will be when I stop dyeing it.
#11 - There's no reason not to transition right now. I'm not interviewing for jobs. I'm not talking to teachers about my grades. There's no weddings on the horizon for me to worry about how I'll look in the family pictures. It's as good a time as any to have funny-looking transition hair. It will never be an EASY transition, but there could definitely be worse times to do this.
#12 - In the end, I've got a bit of rebel in me. Just a tiny little benign bit, but it's there. And having gray is a whole lot more rebel than buying into the "norm" of women hiding their gray.
Today my youngest child entered full-day Kindergarten.
Today is my 34th birthday.
I have gray hair.
Am I young? Am I old?
Who cares! I'm me.