After finding out I was being made redundant back in April, it felt like life was conspiring to push me out of my comfort zone. Rather than go against it, I decided to go with it, to embrace it and get amongst it!
Step into the fire of your fear. Or, as one book title says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” You don’t need to be free of fear to make a bold move out of your comfort zone. You just need to step right through it. – lifehack.org
First off I ditched my wig. What had been a terrifying prospect to get used to wearing out in public, had ended up serving as an enormous comfort blanket for a period of over 7 months. Ironically, it felt weird and rather frightening to be going out without it.
After being on garden leave for a period of time during the redundancy process, the day I went back into the office I decided was the perfect opportunity to go in without my wig on. It felt daunting, people had got used to seeing this new version of me. I had to go through that vulnerability all over again but in reverse. Despite this fear, I actually found it really rather liberating. I felt like I was saying sod you to those who were doing this to me, whilst also taking a bit of control back. I walked with my head held high and thought to myself ‘You’re not knocking me down!’
For the vast majority of my 20s and 30s, I’ve had long, straight, blonde hair. I’m a creature of comfort when it comes to hairstyles and had never had the balls to do anything drastic to my hair (apart from those days, way back, when my hair was permed and I resembled a poodle on heat!).
Now, after having chemotherapy last year, I’m sporting the complete opposite of my previous locks – it’s dark, it’s thick and it’s very curly. The curl didn’t really show in my hair straight away because it was so short, but oh yes, it is growing in a way that I never imagined it could from my own head! Very mad indeed.
Friends and family have been complimentary about my hair and a lot of people have said they prefer me with darker hair and that I also suit having it shorter. Of course, they could just be being polite and kind. If I had a pound every time someone said “You must be really pleased with it,” I’d be, well no, I wouldn’t quite be rich, but I’d have a fair few squid in my purse!
I know that when people say this they’re just trying to say something nice, something positive, something to make me feel better about myself. Something I’d likely say myself if I were stood in their shoes, no doubt trying to conjure up some feel good factor words. I’m too polite to say that actually, I’d rather not have one-inch thick curly hair. I’d desperately like to have my longer, more feminine hair again. To experience the feel of soft hair around my face and neck again.
I often feel very boyish with short hair. I once had all my hair cut off when I was about 11, a stick-thin, prepubescent teenager and I looked like a boy – I vowed never to have my hair cut short again. Now, even if I’m wearing a dress, I sometimes feel when I look in the mirror that a man wearing a dress is staring back at me.
My first trip to the hairdressers felt quite odd. I’d not been for 10 months and my hair was getting quite unruly. I’m told I need to wait for the top part (fringe etc) to grow out and to keep having the rest trimmed and eventually it will be the same length. Each time I have it cut I feel like I’m taking a step backwards as it’s shorter again. I don’t realise how much it has grown until I look back to photos taken earlier on this year and I can see that it has (hair diary post to come!).
With each bit of growth, a newer, slightly different way of styling is needed. I’ve never had so many styling products on my dressing table! I used to be able to get out of bed and my hair would pretty much resemble how it looked when I had got in it the night before. Now, I wake up looking like Elvis after a weekend-long bender in Vegas!
But this is the way it is to be for now. I have been forced into having a new look and, whilst it wasn’t through choice, I’m trying to embrace the many changing faces (or hairstyles) of the new Allie Moon.
A couple of recent events have brought it to the fore once again just how short life is and to enjoy and make the most of it every way we can whilst we’re able to. My new found liberation after ditching the wig has also led me into trying other new things. I’ve started trying to eat differently and choose a variety of foods that I wouldn’t normally. To say ‘sod it’ more and try something new, you never know where it might lead you. In the words of Brian Mayne “Find the thing that makes your heart sing.”
I’m now contemplating joining a singing group following a recent guitar class. In my lesson, my teacher introduced singing along whilst playing on the guitar (something I’ve not managed to master to date!). It was such an uplifting session, I felt so elated and I sang all the way home in my car like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music!
Interviewing for a new job was also quite stressful and terrifying but as the people I was meeting were all new, they had no idea that I looked completely different to how I used to. The fear of interviewing quickly changed to positivity and satisfaction as I gained encouragement after each meeting I had.
“Stepping outside your comfort zone is supposed to feel uncomfortable because we’re in new and unfamiliar territory. Being uncomfortable is a sign of success, NOT of failure! So if we are uncomfortably outside our comfort zones, then than means we are growing!!! And THAT is cause for celebration!” – Roz Savage
I’ve also volunteered to help the Breast Cancer Haven in a local event that they’re hosting. This wonderful charity has helped and supported me tremendously over the last year with counselling, reflexology sessions and their younger women support group. This will be a great opportunity to be give something back and do some fundraising for them.
Has your hair gone crazy after chemo? How long has it lasted for and do you have any tips on styling and looking after your hair that you can share?