I gained some invaluable insight during a recent visit to the hair salon. A salon employee was talking and joking with her colleagues. I didn’t pay much attention at first, as I was engrossed in the days paper. Eventually I looked up to find the young woman standing before me; she was making a joke about her hair. Normally I would have laughed along with the other patrons. Not this time. I could not laugh because I did not find her condition funny. This beautiful, charismatic young woman was almost completely bald. Most of her scalp was visible with the exception of one lone patch of hair. My stomach turned. I felt sad and ashamed for her.
Surprisingly, her disposition was quite different. She didn’t appear to be sad or ashamed. She drew attention to her hair, or lack thereof. She made jokes and laughed with pure joy. My feelings of sadness began to dissipate and were replaced with admiration. I watched this balding woman move around the room with unparalleled confidence. I was in awe of her. How could she be so calm and confident when most of her hair had fallen out? How? At that moment I couldn’t fathom the possibility of being so secure despite such a setback. Yet, being in her presence encouraged me to find and activate that strength within myself.
Before leaving the salon I shared what an inspiration she had been to me. She explained that getting to this place of peace was not easy, but she had arrived. She explained that stress took her crown and though she wanted it back, she could live without it. I thought about my own sadness and shame. The hangups I have about being skinny, having long feet, dandruff etc. What I learned that day was to get over myself. If this balding woman can move about a full room unabashedly and with confidence so can I.
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