My Grey Hair: Testament to a Life [Well] Lived

I love my grey hair. I love the fact that I’ve let my hair take it’s natural course, without coloring over it’s silvery strands. I’ve earned every grey hair on my head, and wear life’s natural highlights with pride.

Image via morgueFile
Image via morgueFile

My greys are like scars, each a reminder of a good time, and some not so great times, in my life. Attending three universities, working full time, and a 5 ½ year long journey to earn my undergraduate degree, only to have the dotcom bust and be working for a minimal salary, wondering how I would make ends meet (and pay my student loans). Picking up the shambles of my life and moving thousands of miles away, taking a teaching job and having high school seniors give me a run for my money. Another move, back north thousands of miles, to attend graduate school and earn a Masters degree in a record year’s time.

All of these experiences in my twenties lead to the smattering of greys present on the crown of my head by my 30th birthday, sending me into a panic and straight to my hair stylist for highlights to mask that telling mark of aging. The next few years would be a bevy of change (good and bad), and trigger the burgeoning white crown, hidden under highlights and hair color.

I began coloring my hair regularly at age 34, coinciding with one of the most eventful and tumultuous years of my life. I got sober, married my husband, quit my publishing job, moved to another state, became pregnant, didn’t find another publishing job in the extremely competitive market, heard the news of my parents’ separation (after 43 years of marriage), and was told that my unborn baby had a neural tube defect. If I had only a scattering of greys before 34, I was surely salted and peppered by 35.

I entered my 35th year by welcoming my son (perfectly healthy, mind you) and losing a great deal of sleep; this added to the white halo that was developing above the dark circles and peeking out from beneath my hair color. A couple months before my 36th birthday, I found out that I was expecting another baby; two and a half months later, my dreams of two under the age of two were dashed, and I began spiraling down into a darkness I never knew existed. In an attempt to cheer myself, I treated myself to a long overdue cut and color, defiantly staining my hair brown and convincing myself that my loss meant that I could again color. What I was really doing was hiding my pain.

Four months after losing our baby, I was pregnant again; cautiously optimistic and vowing not to believe it until I hit week 14, but week 14 never came. That fall’s hair color growing out and fading, the depths of my despair could be measured by the number of greys peeking through my brunette locks, afraid to show themselves, lest I find another thing to hate about myself. The months went on, and things became darker while my hair became lighter; life’s natural highlights shone brighter upon my head.

The decision to ‘go grey’ wasn’t a conscious one, but rather one that literally grew on me. Losing two babies in a year shook my foundation and forced me to become more honest with myself than I had ever done before; with that honesty came an acceptance, of my greys, of who I really am. While my age weighs heavily on me, in terms of childbearing, there is a lightness that comes with the life experience I’ve amassed. I’ve learned many truths about myself [and of life] with each stride, stumble, and stand I’ve taken in life, and my greys are a testament to a life lived. These silver highlights of mine, life’s natural highlights, I wear with honor, both in defiance and as a testament to my years and experience. I love my grey hair and I will continue to wear it with pride.

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