Around the time of my recovery from the eye surgery, a friend who was training to become a Reiki master, offered me a free Reiki session so he could practice his art. I had never had Reiki done and was curious so I said yes. The moment the session began, I experienced a subtle and unexplainable physical sensation in my entire body. I saw myself standing in the room, watching the session. This version of myself had shoulder length hair with a purple feather woven into the left side. Just before the surgery I shaved my head, and I had never had shoulder length hair in my life before, so I knew this was some future version of myself. My future Self began going back in time, finding previous versions of me in my 20s, as a teenager, as an adolescent and finally as a toddler. Each time my future Self met my previous Self, he would lovingly embrace that old version of me, acknowledging the beauty of my imperfections, offering forgiveness and compassion. For a moment my future Self and my 3-year-old Self stood in the room, hand in hand, watching the Reiki session, holding space for my healing. Then I saw my future Self road-tripping around the country meeting people he wanted to help, working to bring their vision, their goals, their art into fruition. Then the Reiki session was over. When I looked at my friend, I was shocked to see he was drenched in sweat, and he said, “you have A LOT of energy in your body.” After I shared what I saw, he told me that visions are not common during Reiki. So, I decided I would let my hair grow out and see what would happen. Four years later, I joyfully realize that the quest to fulfill this vision has been the path to my healing.
There aren’t many men who have hair longer than a few inches, however the ones who do are quite beautiful to me. I can’t help but turn my head everytime I see a guy with a manbun. For me however, refusing to get any haircuts even to shape it up, going from a shaved head to shoulder length hair, was a journey of self validation. People view a man with long hair a certain way, and the longer my hair has become the more I have had to face my challenges with self worth and masculinity.
As a child I was bullied and often felt alienated from the other boys who enjoyed doing things like playing video games or sports. I wanted to pretend to be Cheetarah, or draw elaborate worlds full of mysticism. As I got older, I became more athletic merely as a way of becoming more accepted. I got my haircut the way the other boys did. I wore the right sneakers, the right baseball cap, I asked girls on dates. The pisces in me conformed as a way to survive. In college I continued this identity of conformity and constructed masculinity by rushing a fraternity. I became a lifeguard. I bought a Jeep Wrangler. If there was some external way to validate myself or my sense of manliness, I was all about it. By the time I became a fully realized adult, I was so used to being this person I had utterly forgotten how to be completely myself.
My strictly anecdotal observances of men as a community through my life, is that often times the masculinity, or outward show of that regardless of its authenticity, is used as a mechanism through which men can feel safe. In some cases, there is an amplification of masculine tropes - inflated muscles, impractical cars, sculpted beards - which to me often signals a battle with shame and self love. Not only that, in the gay community there is a pressure to pour yourself into pre-set molds in order to gain acceptance by your peers whom you both relate to and desire - the jock, the daddy, the twink etc - leaving very little space for variance if you want to feel both accepted and alluring. I don’t mean to imply that if you workout or get your haircut a certain way, that you are insecure and filled with shame, I simply point it out as a context that I was stepping into as a man on a quest to deepen his authenticity and self love by swimming against these pre-established tropes which had provided ME with so much safety over the years.
Growing my hair unintentionally brought a focus to my sense of vanity and my outward appearance as it related to my self-worth. It really forced me to take a look at how I validate myself. I realized that on some level my outward appearance was my main avenue for validation. If I booked an acting job or I got a guy’s number, I believed it was because I got my look just right in that moment, not because of talent or charm. After the job wrapped or the guy stopped texting, I believed the opposite; that I wasn’t pretty enough. It was a cycle that repeated over and over. As my hair started to grow out into one awkward phase after another, I was forced to abandon this cycle because I had to allow myself to look (and feel) exactly as I was. At first I sank hard into my feelings of worthlessness, and it didn’t help that I fell in love and got my heart broken right around this same time. I didn’t know how to climb out of this.
When I’m feeling stuck and I want to gain a different perspective on things, I’ll pull out my Cosmos Tarot & Oracle Deck and ask the cards. I’m not a medium, nor do I believe that the cards have some magic ability to tell the future, but the meanings of the cards are pretty deep and in this way they often help me shift my thinking. After a couple of years of living in this space of not knowing, I decided to ask the cards how I could grow into a more self-loving human. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the cards I pulled or take a photograph, but what the cards told me was to be humble, to be present, and to be patient.
This has been my mantra for almost 3 years. When I sit in meditation, this is the phrase that repeats through my mind. When I am feeling anxious or upset throughout the day, I call back this mantra and it soothes me. It has also come to be a touchstone for me when I’m feeling insecure, a feeling that has been prevalent throughout my journey over the past few years.
Just before my eye surgery I shaved my head. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed an energetic shift, and hair as an extension of our auric energy, can facilitate that when cut or grown. Ever notice how different you feel, good or bad, right after a haircut? I realize now that this shift was the first step toward my healing. It may seem shallow to have so much emotion wrapped up in my hair, but looking back I can see that it sure did the trick to get me to think differently about myself. I have become more authentic simply by remaining humble, present and patient.