In November of 2009, and after 33 years of having hair that never exceeded 2-inches in length, I committed to grow my hair out to donate to someone in need – ideally, young girls having to suffer through the effects of chemotherapy. In the 20-weeks of growing out my hair, the unanticipated benefits became some of the most welcomed experiences of my life – ones that I am sure to never forget. Most importantly, I calculated that ‘my story’ was told to well over 1,500 people, and inspired others to participate and take action themselves. At the end of the day, the bigger purpose was exactly that (bring about awareness for those with suffering from cancer and the associate treatments, rather than the simple process of donating hair).
I want to commend the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. I chose this program, as I fundamentally believe that the end recipient should not have to pay for a wig and I truly appreciate the fact that Pantene is ‘footing the bill’ for those who (most likely) have already been through enough (from cancer). I applaud the program, and in the meantime, have become a raving fan (which might be a bigger deal once I have hair to shampoo again!).
Now that my quest has come to an end, I realize that my appreciation for hair products and hair care is far greater than ever. Although I will no longer battle with hair in the sink, issues driving with the windows down, my children ‘messing up Daddy’s hair,’ or needing to find hair gel that doesn’t make my hair look greasy – I will miss the micro-opportunities of telling others what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and taking in those chances to learn a little bit more about me, who I am, what I stand for – … and why.
So along the way, I gathered the top 10 items that I took away from it:
10) When we complain to our wives/girlfriends/daughters/etc.. about taking too long in the shower, and the excuse is used “I have to put conditioner in my hair,” that’s a valid reason. I never would have imagined the amount of maintenance required to care for long hair and I have an entirely new appreciation for it;
9) It took me a while to realize this, but people tend to randomly say “hello” to people with longer hair. Not sure if it was expected that I also hold up the peace sign or not, but complete strangers would say hello to me at the airport, in the coffee shop, the store, etc..
8) Driving the car with the windows down (assuming you don’t have a hat, hair in a braid, or a pound of gel in it) is one of the most annoying things- yet is one of the things I love to do most here in Texas (when it’s not 100 degrees);
7) Babies love to pull hair. My son, now 12-months old, would hang onto my hair (when I carried him) and truly cause more eye-watering experiences for me;
6) When you change your look, and truly step out of your comfort zone, you alter your confidence. Getting up in front of others (large groups) or even speaking up in front of others no longer comes as easily;
5) The process of donating my hair became a discussion topic wherever I went. Even if people didn’t ask, I felt compelled to tell others that “this is for charity.” As if I were trying to validate myself. Surprisingly, most people would have never guessed. I was able to use it as the best ‘ice breaker’ for the past 20-months;
4) I was amazed at how many times a day I thought about giving up and cutting my hair. There wasn’t a day that went by that I did not at least dream/day dream about it. I looked forward to the day I cut from the 4-week point on;
3) I researched at the beginning to find that a man’s hair grows, on average, at a rate of .50 inches a month. The data does not lie. My hair grew at exactly that rate – no matter how much protein I ate, how many vitamins I took, or what shampoo I used. (see chart)
2) My children never once said anything to me about my hair getting long. Children are so pure and simply don’t see surface items like that. To them, I was always just Daddy to them.
1) We tend to THINK that more people are looking at us than really are. Perhaps it’s just me, but I always felt as though everybody was wondering why my hair was soo long, when in fact, people really don’t care. We care about how we look soo much more than anybody else does.