I did it.
Twelve years ago, I cut all my processed hair down to just over two inches. I felt free. Courageous. Bold.
I also felt panic.
I mean, what was I supposed to do with just two inches of kinky curls that I had no clue how to properly care for? My sense of triumph faded and fear began to prosper. Reality settled in as I stared at my haphazard curls.
The reality? I had stepped outside the box of conformity and didn’t know if I had what it took to stay there. I was an undergrad senior fastly approaching commencement, my wedding day, and the dreaded job search.
What on earth was I thinking?
Unsure of myself, I grabbed the first wig I could find and spent two years having a secret love affair with my natural hair. By day, I’d hide it underneath synthetic wigs deemed “presentable” by society. By night, I’d snatch off that wig and play with my curls—awed by this fluffy hair I never knew.
Since I’d spent most of my life chemically straightening my strands, my natural hair was a stranger. But the more I got to know it, the more I fell in love with its health and versatility, the more I wanted to share it with the world.
Why did I go natural in the first place? I grew tired of salvaging my damaged, processed hair. Each chemical straightening procedure felt like abuse as lye burned my scalp, left scabs behind, and broke down my cuticle layers so much that my hair was now “see-through.”
I’d had enough, and that’s why I took that chunky pair of scissors and said, “To heck with it!”
But there I was. Embarking on this secret journey, desiring to walk in authenticity, yet afraid of going against the norm. You see, during that time natural hair wasn’t a “trend.” There was no such thing as a “natural hair product section” in retail stores. And many people failed to see the beauty in afro-textured hair. Showcasing my afro meant I’d be met with criticism, judgment, and unsolicited opinions. Yet, I felt compelled to do it anyway.
So, I gave it a shot. With a confidence that only God could give, I snatched that wig off and went to my corporate job with an afro. I admit, I didn’t feel as “pretty” or “professional” as I usually felt. But I was proud of the real me.
Yes, people criticized me. Yes, I’d gotten some rude and hurtful comments. But I also grew in strength and confidence.
Eventually, I felt more beautiful than I’d ever felt. Eventually, the disapproving people began seeking me for advice on how to grow out their natural hair, too. Eventually, I became comfortable with being “uncomfortable,” and I started thinking about other boxes I could possibly “step out” of.
What on earth does this have to do with homeschool?
It may not be that deep for people who don’t understand the brainwashing that occurred for centuries in black communities that forced them to submit to white standards of beauty. For many, stepping outside that box was, and still is, a big deal. Anything that celebrated blackness was, and still is, ostracized.
And for good reason, landing a job, finding a mate, buying a home, and promotion in the workforce was much more likely for those of us sporting straight hairstyles. I’m so glad this ideal is shifting and more people of color are sporting their God-given kinky curls.
When it came down to making the decision to homeschool, my husband and I decided to step outside the box of traditional education and just do it. Again, it was something so far-fetched to the people in our community that we were met with unsolicited, yet well-meaning, opinions. You see, Black people don’t homeschool—or so that’s the lie people tried to serve us.
Unlike my natural hair, I didn’t hide the fact that I was homeschooling. I wore our decision proudly.
From my natural hair journey, I learned that freeing myself from something that didn’t feel authentic meant that I could help free others.
And I did.
It’s never about “this” versus “that.” It’s always about broadening our perspective. There’s no such thing as one type of beauty and there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all education.
When we began homeschooling, I felt the same rush of emotions I felt when I took those chunky scissors and started snipping away at my hair.
Free. Courageous. Bold.
But also panic.
Only, this time, I had the confidence of knowing that I’ve done this type of thing before. You see, courage begets courage.
If something isn’t working for you, if you’re ever in a place where you feel compelled to change your trajectory and walk in authenticity, never be afraid to step outside the box. In doing so, you encourage those around you to do the same.