I’ve been on my hair journey since May 2009 and my hair was about full neck length. I really thought that in two years I would be at full mid-back length.
For the first year of my journey, I protective styled most of the time, used direct heat only twice, and stuck to my hair regimen like it was my job.
Still I only grew to barely APL (not full). I spent hours researching threads on forums and blogs that asked readers how long it took them to go from one milestone to the next.
I would be so encouraged when ladies would report it only took them 4-6 months to grow to the next length. So I continued to stick to my regimen, yet here I am almost three years since the start of my journey and I’m still not at my short term goal of bra strap length.
I felt as if I was doing everything right and my hair showed improvement but all I saw was that it wasn’t getting long! I began to get so frustrated with my length progress, or lack thereof, that I even created a new hair term: non-length victory (NLV).
This helped me to notice things about my hair that showed progress that wasn’t necessarily related to length. Being able to make a bun with just one pin, my ponytail sitting completely on one shoulder, retaining healthy ends, or creating or mastering a new style just to name a few examples. Even with noting my NLVs, I focused mostly on reaching BSL – constantly setting dates that I wished to reach it by.
At the end of 2011, I suffered a setback that caused my ends to thin and consequently I had to trim about two inches off. I was so upset about not reaching BSL by the year’s end and losing length that originally I kept putting off the trim.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and just had it done in two salon visits. Afterwards my hair looked one thousand times better! My tangles, shedding and breakage decreased significantly and my hair actually looked longer post trim because the hair was healthier. So, now I am thinking to myself is it counterproductive to set a timeline for length goals?
When we say to ourselves or others “My goal is to grow to full ____ length by whatever date” that makes us not want to trim, causes us to itch to straighten more frequently to check our progress, and can be overwhelmingly discouraging if we do not reach the goal. I wonder if I would’ve made BSL if I wasn’t constantly pulling on my hair to see where it fell.
I probably wouldn’t have done such a long-term stretch via protective styling (sew-in and wigs*) if I didn’t think it would get me to BSL faster, which ultimately contributed to my setback. And I definitely would not have flat-ironed as often to see my hair straight to take length checks.
Once I thought about all of that, I decided I was done with aiming to reach my next length by any specific date. In fact my personal challenge for 2012 is to do no more than 2-3 length checks.
I’m going to set my hair in curly styles (flexi sets, magnetic rollers*) to keep my full length “hidden” from myself, but will still be able to enjoy wearing my hair out and down when I want. I will simply continue to adhere to my hair regimen, trim regularly and maintain healthy hair. My overall final goal for my HHJ still remains full mid-back length, but I will no longer look to do it within a certain time frame.