May 21st, 2017

What Losing My Hair Taught Me

byMic Manaras

Seared into my subconscious at a young age was the connection between hair and success. The Beatles, Thor, and my Dad all cemented that correlation for me—all leaders in their respective fields, all follically gifted.

There was no question that my locks were a crucial piece of the puzzle. As the frontman of my band, a sales rep for the family business, and weekend warrior, my hair was the perfect complement to my over-the-top persona, until…

I was 23, and the whole “I have fine hair” denial statement could no longer hold water. It was clear my hair wanted to break up with my head. I was mortified. I had to act.

Since it wasn’t so bad in the beginning, it was easy to mask; cool hats and wacky paste-infused hair cuts kept my secret under wraps. But as time progressed, the magic in the bathroom became more and more intricate. Pastes required volumizing powder, which then required hairspray, which would only work if I used the right shampoo and blow dried properly. By the time I was 27, my 2-minute gel-job evolved into a 40 minute morning routine. Complete insanity.

Swimming at a pool party or riding in a convertible had to be strategized and God forbid I got stuck in the rain. I hadn’t realized how debilitating my hair had become, and I didn’t question it either. I was so used to the whole routine that it just became part of my reality. Now that I look back, it’s not like all that work was pulling off anything spectacular either…

So, what changed? Why did I take the plunge into buzz-land?

Well, one morning, half-way through my routine, I stopped, paused, and asked myself “What the fuck are you doing?” And I then proceeded to asked myself a series of questions that had never occurred to me: “Is the reason I’m a good salesman because of my hair?”, “Is the reason I can make girls laugh because of my hair?”, “Is the reason I have friends because of my hair?”.

“No” was the obvious answer to every single one of those questions, all of which naturally led me to this one: “If my hair doesn’t bring me anything but grief, then why do I need it?”

In the wise words of Donnie Dekis, “If you have to push too hard, it’s probably shit.” And that’s when I booked an appointment with John, my barber, and told him to buzz me. I was scared, I was excited and 2 minutes and 57 seconds later I was liberated.

I could drive with the windows down and feel the air tickle my head, a feeling I couldn’t imagine with the 2-lb lacker-job I was used to carrying. I could wake up and be out of the house in under 10 minutes, and I even started looking for pool parties.

What I learned from this saga (and to touch on the title of this blog) is that going bald was best thing that ever happened to me not because it freed up half-an-hour every morning or helped me get over my vanity, but because it taught me the importance of asking questions.

Questioning my hair was only the beginning. Disputing this basic assumption put me on a path to self-discovery that shed light on myself and the world around me. It taught me to embrace change rather than swim upstream. It showed me that we sometimes get so caught up in a routine, that it can innocently evolve and mutate into something that ends up doing more harm than good. It taught me the importance of using questions as a means to making sure that what we did yesterday is still the right strategy today. And it taught me that whatever happens to us is an opportunity to make us stronger.

Were the Beatles huge because of their hair, or their great songs? Did people love my dad because of his hair, or because he was a great guy? And what about Thor?

Now that I think about it, their hair was a huge part of their identities, keyword being “their.” We’re all born with our own unique brand and shouldn’t focus on being like anyone but ourselves. And my hair is definitely the most honest representation of me; lean, mean, and clean!

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