For the last 12 years I’ve been dying my hair to cover up the gray that began to introduce itself when I was 30. Three to four times a year, I’d drop an average of a hundred bucks a visit to keep these natural roots hidden. So roughly over the last twelve years I figured I’ve spent about $5,000 on this service.

When the country shut down in March, I abruptly quit dying my hair, and after three months in, I wished I’d have done it twelve years sooner.

Here are four reasons why:

1. Savings & Investment

In hindsight, there are lots of ways I’d re-invest that 5K that would have worked toward the same outcome of confidence that dying my hair did.

  • purchased a fancy bicycle, kayak, hiking boots, or taken trips for exercising adventures (upped my brain’s serotonin production!)
  • bought a few wardrobe pieces that pop and compliment gray hair (worked with it!)
  • invested in a new skill or hobby to focus on purpose and wellbeing (…and have a finished product to boot!)

So chink – here’s a toast to saving money (and clarity of investing in changing values)!

2. Realness

Last year I attended a conference where one of the speakers was a well-spoken, young-looking, gray-haired woman. At the end of her talk, I inquired about her hair. When she served with the Peace Corps, dying it wasn’t an option. “As it turned out,” she said, “that ended up being a great thing for myself.”

I shared with her my secret desire (and conflict!) to let mine go. She confidently reassured me, “Do it. You won’t regret it.”

She was 32.

Every time I’d see a millimeter of the white stuff, I’d scramble to cover it up. In suspending my hustle to cover gray, I’ve uncovered some thinking about my biases, beliefs, and identity. I’m noticing the longer I let these white roots grow, these deeply rooted beliefs including “gray is not okay” are being uprooted giving me space to plant new seeds to grow differently.

It’s been an interesting transition that has sucker-punched my ego. My ideal clients do vulnerable and real work, so strangely, not dying my hair happened to deepen this capacity.

So this one deserves a toast with double meaning! Chink – here’s to growing roots!

3. Modeling Beauty for Daughters

In 7th grade my friend got flowers delivered to school with a note from her dad. The note said, “Pretty is as pretty does.”

At 42, I still remember the impact that made on me –– realizing a dad was challenging his teenage daughter to know that beauty was more than looks.

I want my daughter to know this. To own this.

I want her to know she may be judged (or judge herself) by her cover, but the content of what’s written on the pages of her heart are what create beautiful outcomes.

So in the spirit of gray-haired sophistication, here’s a toast to our lovely daughters learning early that beauty begins in her spirit and then shines out in her face – Chink!

4. Opportunity to Reframe a second-half-of-life Identity

A month before quarantine, my husband had surgery on his front two teeth which will require eight months of him missing those teeth while the bone infuses and heals.

He can wear a retainer that has two teeth built into it, but often he doesn’t. (Mask-wearing in public covers up his missing front teeth. We joke about how he got so “lucky”.)

We’ve gotten some good laughs with people who hadn’t seen us in five months; his teeth, my suddenly stark white hair. “Woah. The Thalmanns really let themselves go.” 

I want to embrace this second-half-of-life with more humor and grace.

My mentor is 77 and I’ve watched her embrace getting older with dignity. I hope I get to live life long enough to have a whole head of white hair, experience, and wisdom to pour into the lives of others.

Final Toast

So raise your glass if you’re still with me, and let’s make a toast together! Here’s to a meaningful second-half-of-life, making an impact for the betterment of others, and embracing gray as a symbol of the right of passage – CHINK!

Challenge: Have you embraced your gray/white? Tell me about it! Post a picture in the comments (here’s mine!) or send me an email! rachelt@essdack.org 

Reflect: When you think about uprooting your own biases, beliefs and identities that have tangled and taken up space for you, what comes to mind?

 

Rachel is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through International Coaching Federation (ICF) for INspired Leadership at ESSDACK. She helps professionals get where they want to be, faster. Contact her.

 

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