Growth in Inches – January Free Choice

I have lived almost all of my life with insanely long hair. For as long as I can remember my hair had never been shorter than a bob. So, when I shaved my head at the end of grade 10 you could say it was quite a drastic change. It was something I always wanted to do but I always found reasons why I couldn’t. Until one day, I kinda realized I had no excuses anymore and that day I told my mom and we got my head shaved the day after. Even though it was sudden, there was some reasoning behind it. My whole life, my hair had been a security blanket. I was super self-conscious about my appearance and there were times where my hair was the only thing I thought was beautiful about me. But once I went into grade 10 as a drama kid everything changed for me. I became more confident and I felt more beautiful than ever so I felt comfortable finally doing something I always wanted to do. I also knew I wanted to donate my hair because I have friends whose parents have cancer. Shaving my head was probably one of the most drastic decisions I have ever made in my life and even though I went through some hardships with it, I wouldn’t go back on my decision.

When I first shaved my head it was exciting and new. It was fitting; however, that the most drastic decision that I would ever make was accompanied by a drastic change of pace that happens from grade 10 to grade 11. When I went into grade 11 my hair stood completely straight giving me the appearance of an unblown dandelion. I didn’t know how to style it, I didn’t know what to do with it. It was just there. I hated it. Going into grade 11 felt like I was drowning. I had missed a week’s worth of school and I was in three cores with my one elective being art. Up to that point in school, I could easily just do well in my classes so I had almost no study and homework habits which didn’t help. I was lost and I didn’t know what to do. My mental illnesses were acting up and it was affecting every aspect of my life. I started regretting my decisions. I wished I never shaved my head and I wished that I didn’t take -1 Math or AP English. I was in an awkward phase of growth. I didn’t know how to deal with my hair or my stress. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see the long-haired joyful and confident girl I was last year. I felt like a shadow of who I once was. 

It wasn’t long before my hair finally decided to succumb to gravity. It was still a quite awkward phase but at least it wasn’t standing up. I bought myself a bunch of hair products and started trying to figure out how to deal with my hair. I was super stressed with school so I decided to start to take care of myself. I realized that I couldn’t go through grade 11 living like I had in grade 10. I started writing down all of my due dates in a calendar, I stopped drinking caffeine, I set a bedtime for myself, and I created study and homework habits. I learned to take care of myself. I distinctly remember telling Zaid about how stressed I was one night and he said to me “I can’t say that it will get better, because it probably won’t, but you will get better”. I did get better. I found that my anxiety was getting a lot better and while I was still very stressed I knew now to take care of myself. It was also at this point where my love for school was renewed. I was able to stay more engaged during classes and I noticed that my marks went up. I learned how to deal with my hair and my stress in school. 

I really like my hair now. Over the break, my hair grew a lot and now it’s finally at the length where I can do things with it. I can curl it, pin it, and style it. I got out of the previous awkward phase. While I don’t feel like the me that I was last year, I feel as though I’m an improved version of myself. When I came back from the break I felt changed. Ms. Orchard actually took one look at me and told me I looked like I was sparkling. I was back. Coming back I had clarity and I could see how much I grew. This past semester has been the hardest semester of my life. However, through all of the pain and the stress that I felt, I ‘m really glad that I did what I did. I’m glad I challenged myself with choreographing the musical and putting myself in harder classes. I love being in AP and I couldn’t imagine a better class. Growth sometimes requires a little hardship and stress. But under pressure, one can become something beautiful. I can see my growth in inches every time I look at myself in the mirror. My hair grew as I grew. I’m happy where I am. I wouldn’t change anything that I went through this semester. I became better.

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7 thoughts on “Growth in Inches – January Free Choice

  1. Dear Abby,
    That was such a moving story. I love how you were able to relate your personal growth to your hair, as it was a beautiful and exacting metaphor. I remember you telling me about you shaving it off last year, and I remember thinking, “Wow, she has to be brave to do that”. Even though I wear a scarf, I still do not dare to get rid of all of my hair because I am scared of “that awkward phase”. I am scared of seeing myself in the mirror and feel like someone different. I am scared of regret.
    If I ever do shave my hair, no one would know, but your personal choice was seen by everyone. I admire your ability to have your chin high even though others can judge so easily. It shows your mental strength.
    Your journey with your hair reminds me of Janie. In her youth, Janie has long and flowing, hair, but she was innocent and untouched. In her relationship with Joe Starks, she is forced to wear a head rag, to hide her beauty under the guise of purity, even though it forced her into submission. This was your phase of looking like an “unblown dandelion” (love that imagery), of feeling suffocated by your inability to style your hair. You felt restricted by its shortness when you had thought you would love it. In the end, you matured into a “handsome woman”, one who “called in her soul to come and see”.
    If you would like, maybe consider having more pictures to illustrate the growth. I feel it will allow readers a visual representation of your progression.
    I applaud you for your courage. You and Janie both know how special hair is to a woman, and how its growth and shine can be reflected on the owner.
    All in all, I can’t wait for another semester of AP with you next year!

    1. My love Nazeefa,
      Thank you so much for reading this piece and commenting on it. I remember telling you about how I was going to shave my hair and the look on your face. I knew after seeing everyone’s reaction to the idea of me shaving my head that I just had to do it. However, I completely get that fear of regret. Believe it or not, I had the biggest fear of regret when I shaved my head. I just kept telling myself that hair grows back.
      I never realized the correlation between me and Janie and you helped me to shed a light on why I adore Janie so much. As for adding more pictures, I had planned to but because I didn’t feel as confident in my short hair I don’t have many pictures of my hair as it grew. It is one of my biggest regrets in my journey of shaving my head but if I find any I will definitely add them into the blog post.
      I am excited for one more year of AP with your beautiful mind!

  2. Dear A🅱️🅱️Y:

    I remember at the beginning of this year when you and I had an argument as to whether or not you had kept bangs for part of grade 10. I thought you were telling a lie until you showed me the picture of your bangs (in grade 10) and I felt like a piece of garbage for actually not remembering that. It seems as though you and your hair have always just been steadily changing and I can never pinpoint exactly where you are – for I always feel as though your hair hasn’t grown THAT much in the past month until I see a photo and remember. This is pretty representative of you as a person, and it flows literally perfectly into the writing. I can’t tell you how much of a powerful and emotionally wonderful response this is to a personal experience. Your connection to cutting your hair and then going into grade eleven with the stresses of the new year were truly amazing and made for a great piece to read.
    Your character development from an individual who was overwhelmed with everything in life into slowly deciding to take care of yourself followed an “initially, then, finally,” is something that is honestly commendable. I’d like to take a second, actually, just to acknowledge how special that is. For whatever reason, you consider me to be a good writer, and if you look at my work, I struggle heavily with character development. Just take a look at my romance series, poetic prose, or even my critical essays – I struggle even there to distinctly show a character change.
    You take that one step further by showing the character change through yourself; showing grade 10 as a year of pride and good change for you, and grade 11 as a symbol of not liking your hair and thus feeling overwhelmed, scared, and anxious.
    Onto the actual writing, this is probably one of your best pieces. The first paragraphs introduced us into the normalcy of your hair and how life was comfortable, and the catalyst of change was you cutting your hair which is established later on. You showed the positive and negative of your hair which changed through time, and the dulaity of liking and hating it. Like established before, your character change is excellently captured at a level that I would consider to be professional and exemplary. Your relation to specific life examples such as struggling in school and questioning your choice of AP also created a more personal narrative that attract the reader. Your writing is more polished than I have ever seen it, and even with my most stingy eye I could notice your detailed and purposeful sentence structure and language variety.
    Since I’m a grade-A asshole, I’m going to point out the one grammar mistake I did see. ” I could easily just do good in my classes so I had almost no study and homework habits which didn’t help.” The use of the word “good” here is incorrect and should be replaced with “well”
    You know me. You know i’d absolutely roast you if there were anything else to be improved, but there isn’t – honestly.
    But this story streches beyond just this specific blog post since obviously this pertains to some actual struggles in real life. In my own words that you quoted, life gets harder, but so do you (ignore the innuendo please). As you know, you and I are very, very close and so I like to celebrate your own successes as my own and your own joys as my own. I can’t ignore the fact that there are moments of sadness that we try our best to wipe away, and I’m sorry if at times I trivialized your sadness and pain just because I couldn’t understand it. It’s not my intention to do so – it just hurts me to see you in pain and so I try to remedy that the way that I would help myself, which obviously can’t work. You’re your own unique, beautifully magnificent person and need to be treated as such. This post is great evidence of that, and your personality, wit, and resilience ebb through this writing and in your life.
    know you have a voice that needs to be heard. That voice is evident most strongly in this piece, and I feel like you should try and adapt this into a pesonal essay or a more flowery creative piece and look for it to get published. I suggested Lexi to publish with the Purple Fig, and I’m suggesting you to publish with them as well:
    Anyways, A🅱️🅱️Y, always remember that I will be honest with you, and I will honestly be by your side through it all. That said, as you grow and adapt and your hair grows out, I can’t help but feel like a mother who watches her little bird fly out of the nest.

    Your dad (ignore the innuendo, I just say this cuz it rhymes with my name)


    1. Dear Zaid,
      I was both excited and scared when I saw that you read this piece. But the fear dissipated as soon as I read your comment. It truly made me tear up because as you mentioned I view you as an amazing writer so having your approval on this piece also means a lot. I hope you’re aware of how hard I tried to make this piece perfect. I’m really glad that you enjoyed this piece and know that a lot of the growth I mentioned in this piece was done with your help. You truly have helped me through a lot this year even though you may not think that you did. I truly cherish your friendship and I hope that you know that. I’m definitely not as verbally expressive as you are so it’s harder for me to convey how much I appreciate you but I’m sure gonna try.
      Thank you for being my friend as I grew into who I am today.
      Your friend,

  3. Abby,

    God, I wish I had gotten the privilege of working with you this year. That was absolutely incredible. Your central metaphor of hair growth and personal growth was perfectly integrated and well carried through. I can honestly say that this is among the three best blogs I have read this year. You have positively blown me away with this, and I wish with every fibre of my being that I had been paired up with you in class.

    In addition to flooring me with its quality, this blog brought back memories and feelings that I haven’t felt in quite some time. Your description of the decision to shave your head hit SO close to home; I distinctly remember telling my parents that the buzz made me feel like “my most undistilled self”, with nothing to take cover behind. Even going from a pixie cut to a buzz cut was a huge source of anxiety for me, so I commend you for taking the even more dramatic leap from long hair to no hair. You’re a braver woman than I.
    From one bald binch to another, I am so incredibly proud of you. You have taken the treacherous path of evolving with life’s challenges rather than succumbing to them. You have become your most undistilled self. You have changed, and that is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story of growing. It is one I will not soon forget.

    Love forever,
    Maria 🙂

    1. Dear Maria,
      I’m so glad you read this blog. When I was writing this I couldn’t help but hope that you would read it especially since you also went through getting a buzz cut. I am so grateful that you believe this to be one of your favourite blogs. I’m really sad we never got to work together but I hope you know that even though we didn’t work together you inspired me so deeply. I look up to you in both your AP prowess but also in your confidence. During days where I struggled to find my beauty, I would simply look at how beautiful you are and feel immediately better because if you could live with a buzz so could I.
      It is interesting to see while we have never formally worked together we have shared feelings. It’s good to know someone else knows how I feel because when I was writing this I really wondered if people would understand. I love what you said about being “my most undistilled self” because that’s exactly what it feels like.
      From “one bald binch to another” I thank you so much for commenting on this piece it means so much to me that you even read it. I hope we get the chance to talk more next semester.
      your fellow bald binch

  4. Dearest Abby,

    When I saw your featured image whilst scrolling through the list of blogs I knew this was a story I needed to know. It can be extremely difficult for us to expose our (previous) insecurities, especially when it was something that we had held inside ourselves for so long; I’m incredibly inspired by how vulnerable you let yourself be in this piece. Going “AP ELA” mode, I couldn’t help but notice how clearly outlined the Initially, Then, and Finally were shown in your life and couldn’t help myself from thinking about the number of prompts you could relate this to.

    The only note I had was that I would’ve liked some more flow to the piece. There were a few spots where I had to read it a few times to get what was being said, or thought that it could’ve been said some other way. For example, “Up to that point in school, I could easily just do well in my classes so I had almost no study and homework habits which didn’t help,” could’ve been phrased, “Till then, I easily excelled in my classes so I never truly developed any strong study habits; this only made my current predicament that much harder.”

    Other than that, I had a great time reading this, and I am honored to know your story. Can’t wait for next year!!!


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