This last year I grew my hair out, and it changed my life.

Photo: Paul Gomes.

When I look back at 2013 and wonder what I did differently, one thing immediately pops into my head- I didn't cut my hair.

I was obsessed with getting my hair cut regularly. Like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, I had one, and only one, hairdresser who I trusted to touch my hair, and I'd go to her regularly every 6 weeks. If I didn't get a trim on time, I'd feel like my hair looks awful, making me look terrible, and that bad things would start happening. My best friend would constantly tell me I'm crazy and that I should just let my hair grow out. I finally decided to listen to her. I stopped going for my regular hair trims. {In fact, the last hair cut I had was in December 2012.} And you know what? Growing my hair out changed my life.

Once I stopped visiting the hair salon with such regularity, I found that I became less and less obsessive about other things. For instance, I used to also regularly color my hair since I have a few grays. I decided, you know what, f*** this. A lot of people nowadays have premature gray hair and it's ridiculous if anyone still believes that gray hair makes you look old or ugly. So I stopped the neurotic need to color my hair as soon as I saw a micromillimeter root of gray showing.

After a few months, I also stopped blow-drying my hair to 'set' it. I realized that I'm happy with my wavy hair and that it looks great without having to blow-dry and straighten it to within an inch of its life. Surprisingly, at the same time I received many compliments from people saying they loved my longer, wavy hair and what did I do to set it that way? My gleeful answer- absolutely nothing.

And since I stopped cutting, coloring and blow-drying my hair, the immediate result was that my hair became healthier, thicker and stronger. It even grew faster!

But I noticed another result. My mind relaxed. No longer did I feel the need to look absolutely immaculate every single moment. I accepted the fact that some days my hair won't look perfect. So what? I have better things to think about. Since I let go of the need to have my hair looking 'perfect' all the time, I applied this philosophy to other areas of my life. I reduced my make up routine. I stopped wearing foundation. {Trust me, getting rid of this one step is so freeing. Foundation takes ages to apply, then you have to blend, blend, blend, then add powder to set it in place so it doesn't come off on your clothes.... UGH.}

I started letting go of other things as well. Things that were not as tangible. Like ideas and thoughts that I stubbornly stuck to, even though they were holding me back. I realized that I don't have to be right all the time. That I don't have to have all the answers; all the bleeping time. I gave myself permission to make mistakes. To mess up. To fail.

I stopped being so hard on myself. I stopped berating myself. I started being gentler. All this led me to love myself more. And in the end, that's what counts. Because you can't love others fully unless you've accepted yourself completely, premature gray hairs and all.

Today I often look back and laugh at that girl who used to wake up each morning, take a shower and spend hours straightening her hair and applying make up to look perfect. Today I get out of bed, brush my teeth, comb my hair and GO!

And the biggest benefit - I get more beauty sleep. Hurrah!

Shabana Feroze

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