The Joys and Pains of Being a College Natural
Easy transition: College is a great time to transition to natural. Many people find it easier to make the transition from relaxed to natural at a time where most of their life is, well, in transition. College is a time where you establish new parts of your identity, new friends and new interest.
Liberal environment: Depending on your college/university, the environment is generally going to be more liberal than that of a professional workplace. You can wear a funky up-do one day, a fro-hawk the next, a twist out on the weekend (etc.) without feeling constrained by a stiff or conservative environment.
Support system: If you have one, this can be a tremendous joy. Having other naturals around you for inspiration and support is really great. A natural hair support system is great for product swapping, style ideas and advice. Plus, it’s always great to have someone who understands your struggles. After all, misery loves company, right?
Time to experiment: College is a great time to experiment with different looks. You can wear a variety of styles throughout the week. Your lifestyle in college is usually hectic and all over the place, one day you’re at in internship, the next day you’re volunteering, the next you’re going out with your friends, etc. College is a great time to experiment with versatile styles to suit your versatile lifestyle.
Forgiving of your crazy life: College is about the only time where it’s (somewhat) acceptable to wear the same style for three days straight, or throw your hair into a puff in the morning and go. Time is money, especially at school…so if you need to rock with that wash-n-go for a few days or keep your twists under a bonnet during exam times, you can do that.
Dorm-room living: Trying to do your natural hair is one thing. Trying to do your natural hair in a communal bathroom is an entirely different story. I’d love to be able to rinse out my deep conditioning treatment in the sink (without having to get back in the shower), or to be able to do a henna without getting the side eye from folks brushing their teeth. What should be a fairly private and personal routine becomes very public. Feeling compelled or pressured to explain your hair to people who will never understand it can be annoying. Being made to feel like a zoo animal is never fun, and it’s almost certain to happen living in a dorm.
One is the loneliest number: Depending on what school you go to, being the only natural (or one of few) people with natural hair can be really isolating. Getting weird looks and strange questions or comments (from “do you wash your hair?” to “It looks good on you, but I could never do that!) can be exhausting and really annoying. It’s awesome to have a support system, and feeling like you don’t have anyone to talk to about your natural hair can be discouraging.
No time: This is one of the biggest pains of having natural hair in college. With so much going on, sometimes a deep conditioning treatment is the last thing on my mind. I can’t be bothered with daily styling and maintenance. I literally have to plan when I’m going to do my hair, because if not– either it or something else won’t get done.
Budget: This can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. I have those days where I really just want to try a Heutiful steamer or get a Deva cut…but my wallet won’t allow it. It takes a lot of willpower not to spend my money on every product I see (though it is tempting!) Finding what products work best for your hair can be an issue when you don’t have the money to buy/try new products. Or try running out of your favorite product and having to wait until you get paid or your parents show mercy on you and help you out. (Not a good look or feeling.)
No Resources: If you live in a college town like mine, finding a salon or a stylist who doesn’t scream and run when you walk through the door is a rare privilege. If you don’t have a car, finding a way to get to the store to buy your staple products (like conditioner) can be a struggle.
Come on all you college curlies & naturals out there. Tell us what it’s really like being natural in college.
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