From Perms and Bows to Twists and Fros

I can recall going to countless slumber parties when I was younger where I braided everyone's hair, and no one had a clue what to do with mine. They'd pull out a brush fully of hair trying to work their bristles through my tangles. One time a girl slopped handfuls of lotion in my hair trying to make it smooth like hers. I was so embarrassed at how nappy my hair was that I let her and really hoped it would make a difference. My mother was furious.

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Growing up having nappy hair was a punishable offense. Almost every Saturday night I served my time in a chair by the stove as my mom pressed my hair for church the next morning. Eventually, my sentences progressed to perms every 4-6 months where I was forced to let it burn a little longer for the sake of straight, manageable hair.

As I got older and was allowed to do my own hair I took it upon myself to fry, dye, braid and sew in every new trend I could teach myself to do. My hair was incredibly damaged, but that wasn't my original prompt for going natural. When I started my journey in 2013 blogs and Instagram accounts were starting to boom with curly haired black girls using the hashtag natural hair. I had to be a part of the trend.
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It took me several tries to transition because I had a horrible time trying to get my hair to look like the girls in the videos. As I began to learn more about my hair and it became hard to manage there were plenty of days when I didn't feel beautiful. People frequently questioned why my hair "wasn't done" or gave me crazy looks when I walked in a room. I felt like I was constantly trying to convince people that my hair was in fact done and defend my decision to go natural.

At my 7 month mark I had had enough. I felt defeated and just knew that natural hair wasn't for me. I had box braids at the time and my plan was to get a perm as soon as the braids came down. I remember taking my hair down, washing it, and seeing a clear difference between the processed and non-processed hair. It was unbelievable. There were curls at the root that I had never seen before, and I couldn't bring myself to perm them. That day I cut about an inch off the top and never looked back.

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As I worked my way through getting rid of the processed hair I fell in love with my fro. Each time a found a new curl I just wanted to set it free. I began to hold my head high and feel so beautiful with my hair out. It was as if it were a crown.

I started blogging within that same year and couldn't wait to share my hair with anyone who would listen. I have joined several online natural hair communities and feel my confidence grow with every story I read. It fills my heart to see so many women embracing themselves and all of their natural features. I can't believe I ever thought that the hair I was born with wasn't for me.

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For so much of my life hair was the thing that made me feel beautiful. Though perms and the pressing combs hurt I didn't dare fall out of trend and let my hair go without. Now, three years after taking a leap to the other side, I couldn't imagine going back. Transitioning was not always easy, but I learned so much about hair, self-love, and inner beauty that I appreciate every struggle.

This post is part of HuffPost's My Natural Hair Journey blog series. Embracing one's natural hair -- especially after years of heavily styling it -- can be a truly liberating and exciting experience. It's more than just a "trend." It's a way of life! If you have a story you'd like to share, please email us at MyNaturalHairJourney@huffingtonpost.com.