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Curly Nikki

Food For Thought–Self-Exploration

By January 27th, 202141 Comments
What have you learned about yourself since going natural (and during the transition)?

If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you’d tell your transitioning or pre-transitioning self?

41 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    I am only 4 months in too my transistion, but i have learned that I am not as confident in me as i thought I was. I am really struggling to aceept my hair for what it is and to make a real go at being natural. Everyday is a battle between my natural hair and permed hair, and most days I just give up. I dont want to be bound by what other people think but at this point I dont know how not to be….

  • Añya says:

    Right now I feeling as if I am transitioning all over again because as a Natural woman for going on 5 years I have done so much damage to my hair… heat damage, dye damage, you name it I´ve done it. So now looking back I wish I was PATIENT and KNOWLEDGEABLE with my hair. I was too in a hurry to get my hair looking, feeling or to have a certain length. I also would educate myself more in taking care of natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    If I would have known how free I was going to feel I would have BCd a lot sooner. I didn't know I was transitioning, I just knew I didn't want a relaxer for a while and when I BCd I had no idea it had a name! So since I BCd on June 1, I have been on a mission to learn as much as I can about my hair. I am almost 36 and had been relaxing my hair since middle school (25 yrs give or take). It has been a liberating experience for me considering my hair has always been long. Now I am truly excited to see how it is going to look long and curly. People (including hair stylists)had been telling me for YEARS that I didn't need a relaxer (I only got them 3-4 times a year) I wish I would have listened to them sooner! Corygentri

  • Unknown says:

    I transitioned almost five years ago and I must say it was a very enlightening experience for me. I truly did not know how much self worth I put into being the girl with the long, chemically straightened hair. I transitioned for about 9 or 10 months and proceeded to do my "big chop" after that.

    I was not emotionally prepared for how much I associated my "beauty" with having long and straight hair. I was surprised by the emotions I had to deal with after cutting my hair. If I could go back in time, I would share with my former self some insights that have come to me over the years.

    First of all, beauty comes from within, of course I'd heard this plenty of times before, but I am not sure I fully processed and appreciated it. Secondly, I wish there was a way to impart a crash course in the wisdom of obliterating or removing some of the European expectations or views that we associate with and use to define what is beautiful for us.

    Not taking anything away from European Beauty, but if we are not of European decent how can we be compared. Can you compare apples and oranges? Both were created by God and therefore they both are GOOD and there is no need for a further comparison (yes, I am still speaking of apples and oranges, but I am also speaking of those of us that are of African decent (African Americans) as we relate to our more European counterparts). We cannot be compared. AND we should not be subjected to their ideas of beauty! After five years of learning and growing, I can truly say I love myself more than before. I love my hair more than before…kinks, curls, naps, and all!

    Apryl

  • Unknown says:

    I transitioned almost five years ago and I must say it was a very enlightening experience for me. I truly did not know how much self worth I put into being the girl with the long, chemically straightened hair. I transitioned for about 9 or 10 months and proceeded to do my "big chop" after that.

    I was not emotionally prepared for how much I associated my "beauty" with having long and straight hair. I was surprised by the emotions I had to deal with after cutting my hair. If I could go back in time, I would share with my former self some insights that have come to me over the years.

    First of all, beauty comes from within, of course I'd heard this plenty of times before, but I am not sure I fully processed and appreciated it. Secondly, I wish there was a way to impart a crash course of the wisdom in obliterating or removing some of the European expectations or views that we associate with and use to define what is beautiful for us.

    Not taking anything away from European Beauty, but if we are not of European decent how can we be compared. Can you compare apples and oranges? Both were created by God and therefore they both are GOOD and there is no need for a further comparison (yes, I am still speaking of apples and oranges, but I am also speaking of those of us that are of African decent (African Americans) as we relate to our more European counterparts). We cannot be compared. AND we should not be subjected to their ideas of beauty! After five years of learning and growing, I can truly say I love myself more than before. I love my hair more than before…kinks, curls, naps, and all!

    Apryl

  • Anonymous says:

    I have perfected patience and discipline and my idea of beauty now is more connected to health. it's more "exercising, feeling, reinforcing" than "hiding, covering, painting".

    I would avoid protein, sulfates and soap, I would not trust products just because they say "I'm natural" and I would still look for the good quality ones, I wouldn't overdo with oils and I wouldn't be afraid keep conditioner in my hair all the time.

    Valentina

  • Claudette says:

    Do not overdo it on the protein, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Also, in my experience, natural products are best. I recommend Oyin Handmade b/c they're in my price range (and the ingredients are simple and the products work well).

  • Edward says:

    I have learned that I actually can grow soft nappy hair. When I first cut my hair, I would tell my other curly friends that they had better hair than me because mine was crunch and hard aka desperate for moisture. I have learned that with a bit of coconut oil and shea butter will soak the crunch away.

    I would tell myself to not listen to my father when he offered to pay for my texturizer! Worst mistake!!

  • Terra D says:

    Since transitioning I realized how hurt I can be by the way that other African American women perceive "natural hair"! I have female friends and family members that constantly make negative comments about their natural hair and it hurts to see how society has forced us to hate what is a part of us!
    I also learned that I could be more confident, LOL. I feel like I stand out more, so I can't help but love myself more, because at the end of the day no one else will see what we can't see in ourselves!

  • NewbieNaturalDiva says:

    I am much more free than before! My hair does not rule me like it did before. I enjoy my weekends and I don't sit in a salon all day. I also get a great night's rest because I am not sleeping on my arm to preserve a hairstyle.(boy does it urk me to toss and turn all night because my arm was falling asleep)(my honey called it sleeping on a kicktand):)
    I look forward to cowashing my hair because it gives me a chance to see progress. And last, but not least, sex is great because I am not worried about my hair! Oh, no more bad hair days!

  • Danielle says:

    OMG…what I am still learning! During this plight to embrace my natural hair and battle the daily demons that surround me: family negativity, warped society, ignorance in general on what IS beautfiful…I am learning I STILL am afraid to WEAR MY HAIR! I am vain for all the wrong reasons and that at 37 the battle is VERY much real and needs to be dealt with. I am learning I am tired of the being the exception to the rule, but want to be the RULE!!! What I would have done differently: cut it all off…I am atached to my length right now and hope that I can get a BIG CURLY BUN like Nikki's and many other beautiful women I have seen…Also, started earlier and took my little girl on the journey… She is 19 now and conditioned, but I am teaching her new things everyday by being an example!!!! We GOTTA get our girls younger…to love their natural beauty!!!

  • The Way God Made ME says:

    Hindsight….20/20

    I am going to be honest, I got a perm because I went to an all white highschool and I wanted to fit in. I had lived 13 years without one. DUMB MOVE!!!! Then, when I went to college I stopped and just wore braids. When I got out of college I fell into my old way of thinkign and got another relaxer. STUPID!!!! It was an endless cycle. I kept changing my hair for other people.

    I would tell myself that it is just hair. If someone isn't going to approach me or talk to me or get to know me because of my hair why do I want them in my life because they are shallow and not a quality person.

  • SV says:

    I am still transitioning (14+ months) but I would tell myself to learn more before transitioning. I wish I had more information in the beginning on how to take care of my hair (products, styles, etc.). I am just finding out about CONES!!!!! I am ready for that BC though. Those scraggly perm ends are not cute!

  • Ishea says:

    I'm 5 months into my transition and I've learned that I really CAN do my own hair. I'm kinda surprised at the amount of money that I was spending being a slave to the salon… slightly wishing I could go back in time and shake myself sooner!! lol… But yes, the transition is a fun process full of good days and slightly off days.

  • Anonymous says:

    I learned about myself that I was brainwashed by cosmetics companies and their advertising

    If I could go back in time I would tell myself to go simple, there's no miracle solution, taking the time to care for and love your hair is the solution

  • Love, Life, Happiness says:

    I wish I would have cut my hair sooner. I was going around looking crazy with two textures. Once I cut it my hair grew fast and I've learned so much about life through something as simple as cutting hair.

  • Maria says:

    Great post! I'm enjoying everyone's response.

    I wish I had the courage and knowledge to do this in my 20's. I wish I would have been more patient back in my transitioning days. I wish I had known how to do a wash and go when I first started my journey. I wish I hadn't gained 25 lbs when I transitioned because I was depressed with my bad hair days! LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish I would have known to:
    * have a new hobby on the back bunner. you will stalk every fotki, watch every youtube and read evry blog archive; it will emcompass HOURS of your life!!! Once all this hair porn is exhausted, life will be quite boring for awhile. Have something to fill that space.
    * regimen= keep hair/scalp clean, moist, detangled, styled. this is different for EVERYONE. take suggestions but find YOUR path. again it will be different.
    * no such thing as a hair twin. this is an unhealthy thing. love, admire and appreciate other's hair, but ALWAYS remember it is their hair. searching in vain for a person with your hair type, curl stucture, regimen, products, bc date, transition time ect… will only lead to comparisons that are unrealistic expectations. your hair is unique unto you. love it for that and dont want what others have.
    *IT WILL GROW
    *longer hair= more time. be prepared for this and save your self some stress. those 10min wash n gos, will go. be prepared.
    * let conditioner sit in your hair and marinate for 10-20min before you attemp to detangle. (this one might not be helpful until around 8inches of growth)

  • Michelle Clayborne says:

    I think I have learned to appreciate the the hair and body I have been given. I feel I am much more accepting of myself because I am no longer trying to be something I'm not or have something I just don't have. If my relaxed hair had too much new growth, I was not comfortable and hated my hair. Now I dont have to think about that and I can try new fun styles.

    If I could tell my pre transition self anything I would say dont worry about how your natural hair will look, it's yours and it will be great.

  • Nutmeg says:

    I have learned that my hair is so much more fun than I knew it could be, so versatile — I can be a chameleon, but at the same time, when I look in the mirror now, I feel more completely myself, like "THIS is unequivocally and truly who you are and what you look like."

    If I could go back two years to the beginning of my transition, I'd just stress the importance of patience, patience, patience, and I'd do all my research looking @ other transitioners or transition-geared resources — until my hair was all one texture, I had no idea what it was truly capable of, and the two textures can be misguiding in terms of best product choices and real examples of your hair type/attributes.

  • Stacy says:

    I would say, stop fighting against your hair! I've had curly hair all my life. Even when I permed my hair straight, within a few days the natural wave would start to appear. I fought it long and hard with flat irons and the like. Now I simply embrace my naturally curly hair and let it "be".

  • Stace says:

    During my transition (still transitioning)I have learned that I have a beautiful natural hair texture. I have learned also that I do not need to perm and be rough with my hair for it to look good. I have learned that I do not need to "conform". I have definitely learned how to care for my hair.

    If I could go back in time, I would tell my pre-transitioning self to begin my journey alot earlier. Ideally during university. I would have had a really long healthy head of hair by now!

  • Memphis Girl says:

    Since going natural I have learned more independence. That sounds crazy! I am not worried about how anyone else is rock their hair. I don't have to sit in the beauty shop for 5 hours waiting on someone to over charge me for a relaxer and a trim. I have learned to love me just the way I am. I rock a TWA every day. To be honest, I am fly with it!! LOL…! I bc'd on September 17, 2009! I would say just do it. I have read that some people who wants to go natural are worried about how they would look but don't let other people opinions affect you. It's just hair!! It will grow back!! Wack it off and it would be a chance to learn about your over all self!

  • DivaDr175 says:

    GO ahead and cut it, you'll like it short this time! I didn't look up a single thing about going natural until my BC. Having been a slave to the hairdresser my whole life, I just expected someone else to take care of it for me and tell me what to do. I wish I had learned more and tried some styling techniques before cutting it, but I'm learning now!

  • KeetaRay says:

    I learned that my hair didn't make me attractive. Meaning, for YEARS I associated my self-worth and attractiveness with how straight/long my hair was. If I needed a touch up and my hair wasn't laying right, I literally felt unattractive. Transitioning and doing my BC made me feel FREE of those feelings and I got to see my face for the first time w/o hair. I had to be confident in just MYSELF and know that I was perfectly fine without long, straight hair flowing down my back. And I learned to love my NATURAL hair and all of our different hair textures!

    My hair always grew at a good rate but with perms I experienced lots of breakage. Now I'm enjoying growth and NO breakage, and fuller hair. I love it!

  • Cygnet says:

    I had already transitioned form chemicals to fully natural and stayed that way for a good while before I started texturizing, because I thought it was the only way I could keep what looked like a natural texture and still get a comb through my hair. I had not yet picked up on the realization that I don't need to comb my whole head at once. This time my transition was forced on me by the effects of too much heat styling (at which I've always sucked), metabolic changes associated with hypothyroidism, and use of products from a bad product line. This time, I know a lot better than I did the last time. If there is anything I would change about that, it would be having more information. Had I known then what I know now, I never would have texturized, because I would have discovered that (1) yes, my hair DOES grow! and (2) yes, I DO have curls already, and I don't need to burn my hair and roll it to get them.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would say do it all deliberately. I just quit relaxing, then I quit straightening with no real plan. Oh, and I wouldn't color. Ever. I have been natural for 2 years plus a year of unplanned transitioning but I have only 12 inches in length to show because I cut off all of the colored ends over the past two years.

  • Anonymous says:

    I truly can't remember my actual transition!!??!! It may sound strange, but all I remember was my hair had been thinning over the years so I thought–why keep relaxing and making it even thinner? It's seems to be hereditary with the women in our family–so I just stopped relaxing (about 6 years ago). I never knew about a BC back then, so I kept going to my stylist who helped me keep it well conditioned, trimmed and styled and over the years the relaxed portions disappeared, but I did keep wearing it in straight styles (lots of heat–which was not good for it). When I moved 3 yrs. ago to a location where there are a few AA stylists who only do weaves or very short hairstyles and charge lots of money, I decided to wear my hair in its natural state. Discovering a blog like Curly Nikki has been one of my holy grails in this process.

  • Angelina says:

    I've been transitioning for about a year and the biggest thing I've learned through this process is PATIENCE..patience when it comes to learning about hair health, trying new techniques and products, waiting to see the beautiful progression of my curl pattern, and being patient with myself and others as the physical changes affect my confidence and self esteem.

    I would tell the pre-natural me to be prepared and take it all in stride! I had no idea that changing something seemingly small like my hair would cause a drastic change in my overall health and emotional well being.

  • S23 says:

    For me, it really didn't matter that I cut all my hair off and started over b/c I did that many times before when I had a relaxer. One of the hardest truths for me was that I realized I cared more that I admitted what the opposite sex thought of my hair. I think it took me about a month to go back to loving my look myself, which translates as confidence with anyone else.

  • Rica Danie says:

    Once I did my BC on Oct 6, I realized how much I am in love with myself. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am courageous. I appreciate life and care more about my body. I love me because of my hair. And for all the naysayers I just let them know I am striving to be more like Jesus; Skin of brass and hair of wool!

  • Anonymous says:

    I learned that I had a lot more patience than I ever thought I had. I have been transitioning for 12 months doing my own hair (which is a big deal for me).
    I would tell my pre-transitioning self. That it's not going in too late for touch ups that's breaking your hair off. It's the "touchs-up" i.e. the relaxers that are breaking your hair off! My stylist used to tell me whenever my hair started breaking that I just needed to come in sooner, I was already going in every 8 weeks! Boy have I learned the truth!

  • jamaicacurl says:

    And if I could go back, I'd tell myself "girl, this is the hair that God gave you! He doesn't make mistakes so do you!"

  • jamaicacurl says:

    I've never had a perm but always blow dried and straightened my hair. After seeing the light and deciding to appreciate my curly hair for what it is (and know how to take care of it) 3 months ago I realized that my hair is beautiful but it does not define me. No matter what family members and other people may see as beauty I have to define my beauty for myself. Even on days when my curls go kinda wonky, I realize that even still, there are plenty of women who pay lots of money on weaves to have hair like mine ♥☺

  • Anonymous says:

    I would say, Dont worry your hair will grow back and with a vengence. Itll be so happy to be chemical free that it will grow in leaps and bounds. You will have a feeling of authenticity like you wouldnt believe and you will never see another you walking the streets, you will be individally created and reflect the awesomeness of Gods creativity.
    -Curlmebella

  • LBell says:

    If I could take back with me all the information that's available now that wasn't available back when I decided to stop perming, I would have transitioned for a lot longer than I did and I would have done it on my own. I would have HAD to because stylists would have thought I was crazy. But what was really crazy was how hard I worked to get and keep curls in my overprocessed permed hair. "Self," I'd say, "it's a LOT easier to get curls from natural nappy hair than it is from permed hair!" I also hated how fine and limp my permed hair was. "Self," I'd say, "you really do have thick hair!"

  • ChiChi says:

    Nothing much. It wasn't this big thing to me. It's just hair. The only thing I was nervous about was doing the BC; whether I'd be full of regret or rocking it like nobody's business. I will say that I never knew I could love my naps the way I do now.I was always the one who wanted long relaxed hair, but mine never grew much past the top of my shoulders in the back.

  • Charla says:

    Going Natural was not a life-changing experience for me. It was not something I contemplated or sat down and planned. So I do not think I have learned anything because of my decision to go natural. However, I have been natural for several years now and I hope that I continue to learn more about myself as I mature.

    However, if I could go back into time and tell myself one thing about transitioning I would. I did not actually plan out my transition, and if I had I would have researched more styles, products and techniques beofore I did it. Although my hair was generally healthy during my transition, it could have been much more healthier if I had taken the time to learn about the needs of my hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I would tell myself to stay away from the perms and concentrate on the health of my hair!! I was not happy with my permed hair!! It was always so thin and limp!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've always known I like challenges and that's how I approached transitioning. I knew the end result would be worth it…to be free from chemical relaxers.

    Being 5 months natural, I've re-learned how much I love doing my hair. It has awakened my creative side in terms of trying to create new looks for myself. I used to change it up all the time as a teenager but somehow got into the "dooby" wrap style rut and didn't stray much.

    If I could go back I'd tell my relaxed self…"no honey your forehead is just fine, of course you'll still be beautiful, you don't have to love a few pounds first and you'll be amazed at how strong you'll feel for making such a great choice for your health!"

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm more in tune with the TOTAL me after going natural. With my wigs, weaves, and other normal hairstyles I lost my "sexy" many times. I'm Back and offically natural again.

    If I could go back in time, I would say self "go natural and go now" It's so fierce!

    Valencia

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