A friend and fellow writer shared with me a beautiful piece she wrote about gray hair. She welcomed her first gray hair as a sign of possible wisdom when she was a sophomore in college. Ten years later, she started dying her hair because she didn’t want to be wise, she wanted to be sexy. Now she is dying a full head of gray hair every four weeks. She is exploring the possible, painful process of letting her hair go gray. Her writing about her relationship with her hair was a brilliant mix of personal and political with an honest combination of anger and sadness.
I made her cry.
I pushed her, in her writing, to keep exploring what was going on under the surface. To explore her anger, to explore her sadness. I could tell there was so much more than what she had written. She burst into tears.
She told about her aunt, a powerful CEO in Europe with a regal head of grey hair. My friend used to be on the same path as her aunt. After getting her MBA at Harvard, she went on to run her own company. When she got pregnant with her son, she had a nanny lined up. But she couldn’t do it. She quit her job and stayed at home with her son, and then her daughter. Her son is now twelve, her daughter nine. They are fascinating, gorgeous kids. She has no regrets about walking away from professional power to raise them. But she admitted, “I look at my aunt and know that she deserves her wise, gray locks. I realize I don’t think I have accomplished enough in life to have gray hair. I don’t feel like I have earned it. That is why I am scared of going gray.”