Seems like an oxymoron, right?
How could there be advantages to this condition? It makes us alopecians feel ashamed. It makes us feel different. And it makes us live in fear, a lot of the time...especially if we're still at the stage of covering our patches with stick-on pieces or wearing a full wig.
It can even lead to us feeling anxious and depressed – something I have a lot of experience with. But the thing is, since deciding to be open and honest about my alopecia, to shave my head and to help others going through the same thing, I've never felt better.
Sure, I'll have days where I feel like crap.
Days where I wish I could just blend in. But I've made the choice to bare my head so I'm responsible for all that comes with it.
And you know what? A lot of it is pretty freakin' amazing!!
Here are the main advantages I've found:
1. You save time and money!!
When I wore a wig, I'd spend hours drying and curling the thing to look like my old hair. And when I had a little more hair, I'd spend ages carefully arranging clips so that my patches didn't show. I'd also spend a fortune on "volume-boosting shampoos" and so on. Now, I can get ready in ten minutes. I don't spend money on hairdressers, either...meaning I have more left for treats like Indian head massages!
2. New experiences and adventures
If I didn't have alopecia, I never would've visited all the random healers or undergone some weird and wonderful treatments with them. Throughout my travels in South-East Asia I've had some pretty strange encounters – from getting scrubbed down semi-naked by the Eat, Pray, Love healer to electro-shock acupuncture – and I wouldn't change a single moment!
It's also meant I've had some really inspirational encounters. People open up to me about their own struggles with alopecia, or perhaps a condition I've never even heard of. Of course, everyone has their own story to tell...and somehow, having alopecia gives them the permission they need to open up. The conversations I've had have been both humbling and empowering – and maybe I never would've had them, had it not been for my alopecia!
A slightly sillier one but hey, we might as well milk the benefits, right?! On several occasions, I've had drinks sent over to me from strangers. One was a bottle of wine with the message attached: "for doing such a brave and ballsy thing". OK, so like I said, sometimes I'd rather just blend in – but I'm not gonna turn down a free bottle of wine, either!
Now, these are just 3 advantages to having alopecia. But in fact, there's lots more. And it did take me a while to get to this stage. Meditation and a daily gratitude practice have definitely helped.
But mainly it's about being open: to new experiences, to new people and to all the comments/points/stares I get on a daily basis. To responding, rather than reacting. To choosing to see the positives in them – which is hard, I know – and to being thankful for the lessons that alopecia teaches me, every day.
Alopecia has made me stronger than I ever thought possible.
And that's been the greatest advantage, the greatest gift, of all. :)
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