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Five Things I’ve Learned While Letting My Hair Go Silver

About seven months ago, I decided I was going to let my hair go silver after dyeing it for ten years. You can read more about my decision here.

I was afraid that the whole process would feel weird and uncomfortable, but I have honestly loved almost all of it, and it has taught me (or reminded me) of some really good things along the way.

Here are five things I have learned (or relearned) so far while letting my hair go silver:

One: Cultural beauty standards are a construct

There is an idea floating around that only youth and things associated with youth are beautiful. I have been suspicious of (and downright rebellious against) this standard for a long time. But since letting my hair go silver, I have become even more suspicious.

Now don’t get me wrong: Of course, I think youth is beautiful. There is a special exuberance and vividness to youth that I really appreciate. But since I have started letting my hair go silver, I have found so many women on a similar silver-haired journey, and I am continually awed by their beauty that has a special quality all its own.

I think older beauty is luminescent—it is often audacious, confident, knowing, and courageous, and it will knock you off your feet sometimes.

When I think of the beauty of silver hair, I often think, “Why didn’t I start this journey earlier?” I wanted to let my hair go silver long before I actually did so, and I know that cultural beauty standards were much of what held me back.

The more I recognize the beauty of silver and grey hair, the stronger my doubt of cultural beauty standards grows. They are a construct. Beauty is not a certain look. Beauty is showing up in your life with authenticity, courage, joy, and truth. Anyone at any age can have this kind of beauty.

Two: Magic is in the mundane.

The more my hair goes grey and silver, the more magical I feel. I love the color; I feel free; I feel more confident. That’s magic enough, but the process itself is magic, too.

I think of magic as the ability to make something appear out of thin air or to transform things. Letting my hair go silver often feels like both of those. I often feel like my hair grows in spurts, and sometimes I will suddenly notice new strands of sparkly, luminescent hair appear, seemingly, out of thin air. Or I will notice how the texture and patterns of my hair often changes overnight.

This makes the whole process feel mysterious and adventurous, and I am almost always up for more of that in my life. Magic is in the extra-special and extraordinary, but it is also in the mundane—like hair.

Three: The process is meaningful.

There are times when I feel impatient with my silver hair process. Sometimes I just want it to be all silver already. But I am grateful for the process. It allows me to say good-bye to my dark brown hair, which has been integral to my identity my whole life.

It also allows me gradually to welcome my silver hair, which symbolizes a new stage of my life. It gives me time to figure out different hairstyles or clothes I like to match with my new silver hair, and it gives me time to connect with other women that are going through this same process and to hear about their experience.

I realize I am at this pivotal time in my life when I have one foot in my youth and one foot in my golden years. That’s a pretty powerful change, and its wise to take the process slowly. Doing so allows me to build a strong foundation of reflection, wisdom and thoughtfulness for the next stage of my life. This helps me value process in other parts of my life as well.

Four: It’s okay to look weird sometimes.

Because curated media images are so prevalent and we are bombarded with them daily, it is easy to feel like we must look perfect and put together all the time. But that’s not how life is. A beautiful, meaningful life has both messy and perfect moments, as well as moments of falling apart and coming together.

My silver hair has reminded me of that. Overall, I love my silver hair and think it gets more beautiful the more it grows out. But sometimes it looks pretty weird, I’ll be honest. Because I am committed to the process of growing it out, and since both my weird and beautiful moments have all been a part of my process, it reminds me that any meaningful endeavor is full of both perfect and radically imperfect moments—and that is what makes the process nuanced, multi-faceted, and an authentic lived experience.

Five: Getting older is awesome because I worry less about what other people think.

One of the awesome things about aging is that the older I get, the less I worry about what people think.

I’ve realized that are two ways of being in the world. You can be a person who looks for beautiful things everywhere, or you can be a person who looks for what’s wrong in every situation.

To be honest, I’ve acted in both these ways in the past, and sometimes I still do. But most of the time, I try to look for beautiful things everywhere because life is just a lot more fun that way.

Before I started growing out my silver, I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t know many women my age or younger who were letting their hair go silver, and So, I started looking for them, and suddenly I discovered all these articles, Instagram accounts, and Facebook groups of lovely, spunky, and joyful women my age rocking their silvers.

I love their hair, and it has helped me love my hair. It has reminded me that we often (although not always) see what we look for. (And of course there are exceptions to this rule, and I write about these in other places on my blog.)

The older I get, the more I try to live a simple, kind, and honest life. And I when I am doing that, I know that what people think about me has much more to do with whether they are looking for good and beautiful things in life or for what is wrong in every situation. People often see what they are looking for. This makes me worry less about what people think, and it reminds me to look for beauty as much as I can.

At whatever stage of life you are in, I wish you beauty and magic.

*****

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27 thoughts on “Five Things I’ve Learned While Letting My Hair Go Silver”

  1. I love this post! Thank you for sharing your honest journey with us readers.
    Your transition to silver hair looks beautiful, and your attitude inspiring. Beauty is not all about youth and each stage of life comes with its own specialness. I agree that getting older is awesome because you care less what others think. You develop boldness from all that you’ve learned from your experiences.
    Have a great weekend!

    1. Agree. I feel the same way. I was so happy reading this post. I was like “yes, finally” someone talking about the positive effects of embracing our age❣️🌈

      1. Tell me about it! So much of our society and thinking are geared to obsess over youth, but everyone ages. There’s nothing you can do about it unless you involve cosmetic procedures. It takes bravery to embrace our age and be okay with that.
        Thank you so much for commenting, and I’m going to check out your blog too! Have a wonderful day. 🙂

      2. Hi Teri, I just checked out your blog and I enjoy reading about how to live and examine our lives.
        Looking forward to reading more posts. I just followed you, so your posts will load in my feed. Take care and have a great Monday afternoon!

          1. When I first started blogging, I read that you can make friends through blogging. It was hard to fathom, but then after a while I realized that bloggers with similar interests visited often and commented. Once I started replying back, it was nice to start the conversation. It took me time to see that blogging is community based!
            Thank you Shelly! I appreciate you following my blog. Looking forward to reading your work too…

          2. Hi Shelly! It’s nice to connect with new friends with similar interests through blogs, and your post was a great starting point for that discussion.
            And thank you for following my blog. I thought I followed you already, but it’s not showing up. WP, sometimes I just don’t know.
            Anyways, I’m following you back. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

          3. That is very strange that it is not showing up! I recently moved my blog to my own website on WordPress, and sometimes it seems to have some kinks that are not quite worked out. I imagine you hit the Follow button? But it is still not showing up in your WordPress feed?

          4. It’s showing up now! I’m not sure what happened, but I am following now.
            The Happiness Engineers are very helpful if you can articulate what the problem is that needs fixing.

    2. What a wonderful and kind comment, Friend. Thank you so much for writing it. I am definitely starting to believe that–that with each stage of our life comes a certain specialness. I think I have missed the specialness of some stages in the past, and I definitely don’t want to miss out on this stage.

      1. Great point! Each stage is unique and offers new insights about life and oneself. When I look at the bigger picture I don’t want to miss out on my life stage/ season now as a busy mom of 2 young kids, but the exhaustion and lack of personal time makes me wish I had more energy.
        I appreciate you opening up about your journey and how to accept the changes that come along with aging…I mean maturity. lol. After your selfie post, I started to goof around with it. I was surprised that the more comfortable I felt, the better they came out.

        1. I really sympathize with this struggle to appreciate the stage we are in. I have been in stages like that, too, where I wanted to appreciate the moment but was just so exhausted. Also, I love it that you played around with selfies! They have been really helpful to me for so many reason. I definitely think of them as a type of journaling exercise.

          1. Yep, I hear ya. Each stage is special and fleeting. Gotta slow down to appreciate the present.
            The selfies are fun…my kids and I use funny filters with funny ears and props. All three of us can squeeze into the picture, but I wonder how long we’ll be doing this. Must soak it up while I can.
            Have a great mid-week!

  2. It’s great that you are allowing your hair to go silver. It’s not just about not caring about what others think but about being able to accept growing older. I sometimes have trouble with that one. I look at my grey hair and think that maybe I’d like to colour it – nothing all that different, maybe something blonde-ish rather than my original dark brown. (But I’m too busy!)
    Looking for beautiful things rather than the things that are wrong is vital to mental health. Mum spoiled much of her life by being critical and negative about things and people that had absolutely nothing to do with her…I even wonder if it might have been a small factor in her slide into dementia.

    1. I know what you mean about sometimes struggling with aging. I do at times, too. But I am having a lot of fun learning to embrace it, and you are so right: finding beautiful things–whether about aging or anything else is so essential to our mental health!

  3. Love the silver hair. As we go into the second half of life, for many of us, there is a shift in the way we see ourselves. I remember this so well. Much of what I thought was so very important became less so. It’s a process, and not everyone gets it. I have seen many women my age (nearly 70 now), who do everything they can to hold on to their “youth”. I distinctly remember when I stopped worrying and caring about what people thought of me. I learned how to “do nothing, and then rest afterwards “. My life is so much simpler, my heart and head so less cluttered. Walking, gardening, swimming, reading and contemplation are my priorities now. Thank you Shelly, for your inspirational journey. 💙

    1. Love your comment Maggie. I’m seeking women like you all because I am preparing and hopeful for a good second half and need positive input and perspective. ❤️🤗

      I love life and people just don’t seem to give the older years the respect it deserves!

    2. Maggie, this is such a helpful comment and full of wisdom. I am really happy to hear from a woman older than I am that this ability to stop worrying what people thing continues as we age. I am really excited about this ability to increasingly let go of what people think! Thank you so much for joining on my journey, Maggie!

  4. OMG OMG OMG. I love this post❣️

    I’ve been searching for women like you who have welcomed what the beauty of life has to teach us, including the aging process. So hard to fine role models embracing aging. Sad it doesn’t hold more value 😢

    I love how you shared your experience with it: the limited Societal Construct of beauty, the Magic, the Meaningful Process, the Weirdness and letting go other feeling Judged.

    I’m going to print this out because I’m preparing myself for my middle years and want to embrace it and appreciate what my life is, not pine away for my youth – which I don’t but I do fear the struggles of aging.

    Oh you have got to submit this to a magazine. It’s absolutely wonderful❣️❣️

    Thanks Shelly. Just what I needed to read 😊🤗

    1. Teri, this is so, so kind! It really makes me happy that you found this post helpful on your journey. So many other women have helped me on my journey, and so I want to share the love! I know your best years are yet to come! So our mine.

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