A couple weeks ago marked my fifth year with fully natural hair. Five years of split ends, single strand knots, tangles, detangling, home remedies, expensive conditioners, cheap conditioners, no-pooing, pre-pooing, more detangling, oil rinses, tea rinses, moisturizing, sealing, baggying and reading every blog, forum and article about natural hair I could find.

And here I am today, almost five years into this journey and I still don’t fully understand my hair and what it takes to make her happy.

Whenever someone asks me why I made the decision to go natural, my response is always simply, “it was time”. And it was. For so long, I avoided water for fear of my hair “reverting” and feared the salon because I knew that every 6-8 weeks, I was going to sit through the painful, horrible smelling routine of having my hair processed.

I often reflect on the first time I saw my natural self in the mirror after the chop. There was so much about my appearance that lay hidden behind my relaxer. But without it, I was forced to get to know and love my round face, full lips, and large forehead. And so I look at that as a freeing moment in my life but also as a hard one. On one hand without the relaxed hair, I was finally free to enjoy my appearance. On the other hand, I was no longer able to hide what I then considered flaws behind a sheet of hair.

While my hair has truly made a transition, my mentality and ideals of beauty have made the biggest transformation. And that has to be the most exceptional part of this natural hair journey.