I've been natural for 3 years. This is my 3rd time going natural. For me, it was a journey of self love and discovery. Each time I learned something about myself. The first time I was in college and I remembered seeing so many natural women and natural styles (Erykah Badu, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lauryn Hill etc). However there weren't many stylists at the time in NC where I lived, that specialized in natural hair. There also weren't many online sites where I could see different styles and how to create them. I found that the lack of information at the time to be frustrating and as a result, began to resent my own hair. I remember going to visit family for Thanksgiving and my uncle telling me, "Gal that is a fierce fro. But you won't be able to hold down a good job with that hair." I told myself that I would perm it and after I got a great job I would just cut it and go natural again.
Two years later, I went natural for the 2nd time. There still weren't many stylists that specialized in it. Rather than "work" with my natural hair I decided to just get locs. I loved them. I felt that they celebrated my individuality and allowed me to be natural at the same time. However I didn't know that I would tire from them. I am the type of person that likes to change my hair from day to day. I ended up combing out the locs (yes you can do that) and I had a head full of natural hair. I liked it but I still did not know how to style it. I found myself intimidated by all this wonderful hair that God had given me. Shortly after I permed it. Three years later I cut my hair natural again. This time I decided I was going to learn how to work with it, and get my hair to work with me. I watched Youtube videos and found so many inspiring ladies, imitated their styles and found some of my own. Below are some lessons I've learned and would provide as advice to newbies:
1) Your hair is your hair. Some styles will work for you and some won't and that's ok. Figure out some staples and stay on the lookout for new ones.
2) Don't be intimidated by your hair. It's just hair.
3) Celebrate your individuality. You don't have to style your hair the way other naturals style it. Work with your hair and get your hair to work with you (i.e. get a schedule that both allows your hair to blossom and not stress you).
4) Avoid hair envy. There is something that all types of hair can bring to the table.
5) Get information- Sites such as Curlynikki and Youtube allow you to gather information about how to care for your hair. There are also plenty of books on amazon.
I think this is the last time I will go natural. I've finally learned that it's just like anything else and requires balance. Good luck on your journey and make it your own.