Posted by: Cathy | October 14, 2015

Coach Nibble: Gray Hair

Coach nibble Today’s coach nibble comes from me! I’m 38, and I’m getting a little cluster of gray hairs on my right temple. I noticed my first gray hair a few years ago, but they were just one here, one there, until earlier this year when I noticed six or seven together in the same spot. I immediately plucked them out in disgust. I continued plucking them for a few months, when one day it occurred to me: that’s not very loving of my body to be so hostile to these hairs. So I stopped plucking them, but now they’re growing longer and getting more visible (to me anyway, no one else has probably noticed!), and they’re still bothering me. I hoped I would age gracefully and not start coloring my hair to cover gray; not that I judge other women, but coloring my hair is just not something that interests me. I haven’t colored my hair since 2002, when I would play with some at-home color cream to try different shades of brown-blonde or brown-red. But doing regular color is expensive and you need to do monthly upkeep, which definitely doesn’t appeal to me. So I’m starting to get gray hairs and I want to feel okay about it.

I think part of it is an identity crisis. I’ve always loved my thick, wavy, brown hair. Now that is changing. I can look at wonderful gray-haired women and admire their grace and beauty, but it’s still a shock to my ego to go through this change personally.

As I was thinking about it earlier today, an analogy popped in my head – a gray hair as a blank slate, a white paper I can use to fill with whatever story I want. It’s an opportunity to let my identity shift; I can release unhelpful habits and cultivate a new identity. Which begs the question, what identity do I want as I enter a new phase of life? That question makes me feel more open and curious, rather than the constriction and fear of a question like “how do I feel better about getting gray hair?”

So let’s reframe the problem. Part of it is probably the long list of things I wanted to do while I was “young” that I haven’t done yet (although I know some “young” people have been getting gray hairs a lot longer than I have!), so it’s allowing my personal divine timing to make itself known. I can take a look at the things I wanted to do “young” and how to do them sooner rather than later if those things still appeal to me; if they do, why have I been avoiding going after them? Can I incorporate some ambition in this new identity I’m crafting? When things happen that are beyond our control, like getting gray hairs, it can be grounding and confidence-boosting to take action on something where we can exert some healthy control.

Also, I can use the gray hairs as a portal to talk to my older, wise self. I knew that self was here with me, but it was more theoretical until I started to get gray hairs. I can do a monthly meditation/journal session with her to help keep me centered in the present and moving toward the future I want, instead of getting stuck in fear and regret.

To recap, the gray hairs represent an opportunity, not something to freak out about. Turn toward them and notice what lessons they have to teach me; accept them as an unexpected gift. If it gets overwhelming, I always have the option to color my hair (or dye it lavender!), but it’s taking it one day at a time, one gray hair at a time, and staying curious and open to the experience.

What do you think, how would/did you handle getting gray hair? What other opportunities do they present that I haven’t thought of yet?


Check out the coach nibble information page if you’d like to submit a topic for a future coach nibble. All suggestions are entered in a monthly drawing!


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