I've Been Natural Longer Than You... So What Does That Even Mean?

portrait of a young black woman ...
portrait of a young black woman ...

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Nothing really, but I bring this up because a couple of days ago on Facebook a poster was going OFF on natural hair bloggers, vloggers, and YouTubers for acting like they have all the answers on natural hair. We were labeled as hypocrites, never having doubts about this natural hair journey and that we consider ourselves experts on everything about being natural. I had to think about her statements a little deeper, because I really wanted to grasp her anger for two reasons.

One: Where was this coming from?

Two: There were too many on the post agreeing with her and I had know why. Were some of us really being snotty, sh*tty or know-it-alls?

I've never really shared too deeply about my natural hair journey. I've mentioned it and discussed some portions, but I never delved into the unsure Sabrina that was lurking around before and during the beginning. I permed my hair for the last time in August 2005 right before Hurricane Katrina tore into the Gulf Coast. Afterward, we found ourselves temporarily homeless, so we moved our little family to Colorado. I went from a humid climate to a dry one and although I had serious stress during that time in my life, I still found time to be worried about my hair. I didn't want it to fall out, so I ditched the perming and decided to go natural.

I wasn't a "Here I am! I'm a natural woman!!" back then. Back then I was sporting braids and wigs and covering my tresses 100 percent of the time. I did that for about three years always wanting to go au naturale, but not mentally ready. Yes, back then there weren't that many of us and yes; I was self-conscious, unsure... just really not ready to expose myself to the world. My husband and sister told me to just do it already and even explained that my hair looked nice. Despite their insistence whenever I did take a break from the braids and wigs and stepped outside of my comfort zone (my house) I made sure to cover my tresses. Was I a chicken? Sure, but I had no knowledge on how to take care of my hair and what products to use.

I had done a big chop even though it had no name back then and had ultra short hair. I found some curl hydration crap on a shelf in Target and slathered it in my hair while sporting a scarf as a headband. Then, on one frightful day in October of 2008, I bared my hair and my soul to the world. Luckily, the world was inviting. I walked into work and I was showered with "ahs" and "oohs" by mostly white coworkers. Even the meanest of the meanest supervisors smiled a genuine smile and told me she loved my hair. It was the reaction I so needed. I needed the love, the like, the acceptance. I was unsure, insecure, and afraid. Yes, seasoned naturals had or still have doubts, fears, and failures but those failures have led us to successes and valuable knowledge on what to do and how to do it.

Do we know everything there is to know about natural hair? Hell no, but we have been where you are right now and have learned how to overcome the obstacles that some may be facing. It was hard to be natural when there weren't many around to gain support, knowledge, and acceptance. So yes, that does make us a little rough around the edges but the love is still there.

I'm not making excuses for the rudeness, the shortness, or the nastiness that some receive from seasoned naturals. I'm giving my take on what it was like for me and why some may be unwilling to share that dark past. There may be a lasting hurt and insecurity back there when being natural wasn't so accepted. It may be hard for some to admit they were afraid or worried about how they looked or even that they felt alone. It's not always easy to look into your soul and admit you were unsure about this natural path we feel so strongly about now.

So, what is my point? My point is many of us have been where you are today and if some are ugly about it then just brush it off and take it in stride. We aren't all like that, and I guarantee you will find many to help you and understand your plight. I envy your chance to go natural when there are tons of products, advice, and support to guide you. Am I bitter? Not at all, because I am the confident natural I am today because I was the clueless natural 10 years ago. My past is my past and it makes me stronger every single day. So the best advice I can give to those feeling anger from some seasoned naturals:

Ignore the hate, embrace the love, and enjoy the journey.