Within a few days, I went from this:
I bloomed as a teenager. As I got older, the hair got longer, the modeling projects became more frequent, and naturally along with all of that, the more I allowed my identity to get wrapped up in my image. Bad idea.
In 2011, living in CT, doing more modeling projects than ever before, everything was fine, until it wasn’t. That winter my body started to feel off. Not a dramatic change, just off.
When I moved back to CO that next spring in 2012, things inside my body started feeling super off and slowly escalated. Low energy, low appetite, and not holding food down well, turned into no energy, not being able to hold food down almost at all, and severely under eating, yet my entire body continued to bloat until I couldn’t fit into my regular clothes anymore.
Then one random day in July of 2012, in the midst of this sickness mess being at its all time most painful, our home burned down in a wildfire.
Prior to the house burning down, I was spending a lot of time in bed, watching Netflix, and not really doing much outside of the house. I had no energy, I didn’t care to do anything, I felt embarrassed, gross, and in pain. So when the house burned down, I think the best way to describe how I felt was…..violated.
At this point my stress levels skyrocketed. I felt displaced, vulnerable, completely lost, pissed, confused, sick, uncomfortable all the time, etc. That’s when I started noticing that my hair was falling out, in pretty large chunks.
My turning point however, was not the fire burning our house down. It was when this happened:
One night, about a month after the house was gone, I was at a meeting at a restaurant downtown, and we came outside to ten of our car windows being smashed open. I walked over to my car and saw that they stripped my entire car of everything that I salvaged from our house.
That was the last straw for me. I didn’t care anymore about anything. My entire life had just been depleted of any pumping blood it had left. I was running on empty, and my heart was broken.
I didn’t have any choice but to start over, in every area of my life. So with my hair continuing to fall out, I decided to start over there too and buzzed it all off.
The next four years I moved around a bit, so sometimes I had really awesome hairstylists who made my hair look badass, and sometimes I had terrible hairstylists who jacked my hair up pretty badly, which resulted in me looking like Macklemore or Justin Bieber, so hats and being confident in who I was as a person, became my best friend.
No matter the haircut/hairstyle that came with me for those next four years, the second I buzzed off that two feet of hair, the veil that was covering other people quickly came off.
Losing my hair helped me sort through types of people. The most common things that took place were those who by default made assumptions, guys casting bets on whether I was a lesbian or not and whether they would still sleep with me if I wasn’t, people coming up to me when I was out and saying, “Hey you’re a lesbian right? What’s it like to be into chicks,” and people telling me how much prettier I was with long hair than I was currently.
Then there were the others, the rare group that observed and dove deeper. The ones who ASKED me why I cut my hair off.
Whether or not I’m wrong for doing this I don’t know, but I’m always scouting out people to invest my time into, people who are of high quality character and integrity, and the ones who cast out their assumptions with the first shot they had, which was probably close to 95% of them, were not people I wanted to invest my time into. Talk about first impressions, making assumptions about other people when it comes to anything, is not a quality trait that will win people over.
Four years of those kinds of uneducated assumptions and comments built up, and they definitely hurt, because there was such a large background story to why I buzzed my hair off, so much pain that was still internally being worked through, and had they just asked, there would have been such a different outcome to how I viewed them.
Every single one of us is guilty of being this type of person. The kind that looks at someone and instantly (negatively) assumes we know what’s going on and why. There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t done this, but the difference is there are those of us who remain at this point and don’t recognize it as a problem, or don’t even know we do it, and there are those of us who recognize that we do it, and actively pursue correcting it.
If we truly care about other people, or have a desire to care, then we need to actively correct this natural, human flaw. How do we fix it? It’s called The Gap.
The Gap is defined best as still making assumptions about others, except only ever in a positive manner. If I’m late to a meeting that I have with you, in your mind it’s not because I don’t care, or I’m lazy, or I forgot, or I’m selfish and inconsiderate and don’t think about others time, it’s because my phone died and I’m stuck in traffic and can’t contact you, I got in a car wreck, or I showed up to the wrong location. You assume the best about me at all times, and when I do show up, you ask me what happened so you can put the facts together.
That’s pretty much it. Not easy, but simple. I promise it matters. It would have mattered to me when I looked myself in the mirror, staring at a girl who had just lost her home, her safety net, her lifetime belongings, her body, her health, and now, her hair. If you had just assumed the best of me and asked me what happened, I promise it would have mattered.
ASSUME. THE. BEST. ASK. FOR. FACTS.
(Btw we did eventually figure out what was going on with my body. I had contracted intestinal parasites. Different types of parasites have two different effects on the body. Either you will lose a lot of weight, or your body will bloat up. It took awhile to get rid of the source, but here we are, healthy, in way better shape from starting CF than I ever was before I got sick, hair is making a comeback and the hair dye bill doesn’t exist anymore, and I got married…….to a man……sorry all of you fellas who had bets on me being into other women. Turns out I’m into Crossfit athletes named Derek.)
Things always work out.
But if you are currently that guy, the one who makes negative assumptions about people and never actually asks for facts, don’t be. You’re hurting a lot of people. It’s not worth it. There are stories to be told. People have encountered so much in their lifetimes. Ask them questions. Learn from them.