How to know if you’re ready to go gray

February 10, 2018

When I decided to go gray I was told by my hairdresser, “It will take about 18 months to complete the process, are you ready for that?”

Some things in life take time.

When you’re trying to decide to have a baby or not, you’re told it will take 9 months to gestate the little bundle of joy.  As part of the birth planning process, you get to decide the time of year you’ll be in the fattest and most uncomfortable stages.

As a mom and a woman who chose to go gray, I can tell you gestating your head of gray hair takes time and the patience of a saint.  And by knowing in advance how long it will take, you can plan for when you’ll be in the most challenging and uncomfortable parts of the process.

When you’re done with the going gray process, it is as joyful as giving birth.

If you can stand getting fat (pregnant fat) then you can stand going gray.  And you’ll need to put on your big girl panties and ready yourself for a doubling up on the emotions you’ll feel before the big day happens.

Going gray process is an emotional rollercoaster.

Feelings of waiting, anticipation, worrying, joy, frustration, sadness, rebellion, WTFitis, shame, disappointment, determination, persistence, freedom, and a lot of ‘holy shit who is that looking back at me in the mirror?’ are going to happen!

You’re going to wonder what the hell does it really look like?  Take pictures – oh, yeah, I did that a lot!

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But if you’re up for a joy ride on a crazy rollercoaster, you’ll be able to endure the 18-month going gray process.  And you’ll be ready to do it.

If you can’t empathize with those feelings or fathom yourself doing it, you’re not ready.  You’ll cave at the first opportunity to hit the salon.  Or when someone, including yourself, gives you the “Aw, you’re not really doing that?” look.

But if you’re up for it, and you’re determined to do so, and no one can change your mind, it is no different from deciding to have a baby.  Once you’re pregnant, you can’t change your mind.  Once you decide to go gray, you’ll do it!

If you’ve had a baby, you can go gray.  It’s that simple.

But…18 months, hmm, that’s a LONG time, isn’t it?  Holy sh*t, did it really take that long?

Well, yes, and no.

Yes, it did take that long to get back to the length of hair I had when I started the process.

No, because I personally couldn’t stand the demarcation line.  I cut my hair at about the 9th month.  Some people can endure it, and some people (aka, me) can’t.  So I was fully transitioned in about 9 months.  My baby gray hair was birthed and ready for me to grow into loving it even more than when I decided to do so.

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I can’t deny it though, half of the time during the going gray process I was in horror of how I thought I looked.  Despite the number of times, I mustered up enough gumption to head out the door with a glory of gray sprouting on top of my head, I always felt a bit (or more) insecure.  Franky, as a woman, I still do.

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I had (have) to tap into my Norwegian stubbornness (thanks, mom) and WTFitis to urge me out the door every time.  In retrospect though, I didn’t realize how much I felt that way until today when I looked back at pictures from a year ago.  Before I did the big chop.

I’ve yet to master the ‘selfie’, but pictures speak better than words when it comes to hair.  So here goes…here’s me today.  I still have bad hair days, I still wonder what style I want, I still don’t know if I want bangs or not, and I still haven’t mastered the curly girl technique.

Hair is just hair!

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As awkward as it is to do so, I insist you document your process in photos.  It helps you see how brave and true to your authentic gray-haired self you are (were) during the process.

Going gray has nothing to do with age.  It is your hair being its own true self.

But what about the voices in my head?  Do I still feel happy about the decision, do I ever have doubts?

Yes!…shitty thoughts happen.  They’ll happen to you too.  You’re gonna get the looks or hear comments (in real and in your own head) like:

“Well, I’m glad that worked out for you (her), but it’s not for me.”

“I could never do that, I would look old.”

“Oh, my, when are you going to take care of your hair?”

“I’m going on a job interview, I can’t look old, I won’t get hired. I have to look professional.”

“I’ll wait until I’m 50, 60, 70, 80, or when I’m a grandma, then I’ll look okay going gray.”

It is easy for me to say WTF to those comments now that I’m done with the process.  It was easy for me to say WTF to those who took drugs during childbirth.  I chose to go gray naturally, and I chose to give birth without drugs.  But dagnabit, we’re lucky we have choices in our lives.

We all have the right to choose what is best for ourselves.

And that includes how we want to look and what color hair we want.  I don’t judge people who color their hair pink, purple, green, brown, blonde, red or whatever color.  I don’t judge people who don’t want to go gray.  I hope they don’t judge me for deciding to go gray.

But if you want support to go gray, you’ve come to the right spot.  I’ll cheer you on 100% of the way.  Go Gray Go!!

Thanks for sticking it out to the end of my going gray tale (rant) for the day!

 

 

 

 

Pocket

By Shelley

Letting my quirk out one post at a time.

35 Comments

  1. Reply

    Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas

    I think that what you do with your hair is entirely your own business. We’re all different and all have different opinions. I personally don’t intend to ever go grey lol! My mother-in-law (aged 74) stopped colouring her hair and went white. She hated it and quickly headed back to the salon. Grey hair can look lush and stylish, mine would look and feel like straw 😂

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      You’re right, what you do with your hair is entirely your own business! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  2. Reply

    J-Dub

    I keep talking about going gray but I have been covering my roots since 2006! That’s a hard habit to break 😉

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      I talked about it for the whole time I colored my hair! I started about 2004 or so, and finally decided in 2016 to do it! We’re always making a decision. We just need to be happy with the decision we made. 😉 Thank you, for sharing your thoughts!!

      1. Reply

        J-Dub

        My fear is I started coloring because a new co-worker referred to me as the old lady who sits in the 2nd to last desk. I was gray prematurely, still in my early 30s. His remark really stung! I didn’t do anything at first but eventually caved to coloring. And of course he complimented me. Said something like you look so much better without the gray! He’s a brat! Part of me wishes I had resisted. I have friends who took that route and I envy them. Grow old gracefully and all that.

        1. Reply

          Shelley

          Aw, ouch, words can be so nasty! Yes, he’s a brat! I was gray early too, and I wish I would’ve listened to a co-worker who said to me, “Never color, your salt, and pepper look is so pretty.” I didn’t believe her, and I regret that I chose to color. I don’t regret the times that I did like it and thought it looked okay on me either. I call it going gray gracefully. I am older and wiser, but I don’t feel old at all because of my hair. The cold weather and body aches do that for me! 😉

          1. J-Dub

            yes the cold weather and aches are more telling here too. I think I may take the plunge and let it go 🙂

          2. Shelley

            🙂 I’ll be here to cheer you on! A girl rocking her gray isn’t someone to mess with ;-)!

          3. J-Dub

            yes the cold weather and aches are more telling here too. I think I may take the plunge and let it grow 🙂

  3. Reply

    bikerchick57

    I admire you for deciding to go gray, Shelley. I’m not ready to go there just yet. In fact, I’ll be covering the gray this afternoon. I tell myself that after I retire, I’ll stop coloring and go natural. Not sure about that, but I certainly don’t want to be doing that when I’m 80.

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Thank you, Mary. You’ll know when and if it is the right time for you. I’m sure your hairdresser loves it that you’ve decided to continue on. I miss seeing my hairdresser, that’s about all I miss of it. Some women in their 80’s chose to never stop coloring, I admire them for their devotion to the bottle ;-)! Enjoy your salon day!!

      1. Reply

        bikerchick57

        My hairdresser only cuts my hair. I color at home. It’s much cheaper and I’ve not had any missteps with the color. However, if I do decide to go gray, I will have to go to the salon to ease it in.

        1. Reply

          Shelley

          I was never clever or brave enough to color myself. I admire you for being able to! AND you’ve SAVED lots of money too!! I went the cheap route and endured the demarcation line 😉 See – we’re really just alike at our opposite sides of the state!

  4. Reply

    hopeforheather

    I love this! I am mid-40s and have been “entertaining” the idea of just letting it all go. Embrace the gray…..aaaackkkk! I dunno but I love your post. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Thank you! That’s the same time I really started questioning the idea of going gray too. I can tell you it is freeing once you decide and make it through the journey! I’ll be here to cheer you on when you decide! Until then, never stop embracing who you are!!

      1. Reply

        Karen Harper

        Great Article Shelley, I’m one of the pictures in this compilation and am honored that you chose to use it . Karen Harper

        1. Reply

          Shelley

          Thank you, Karen! I appreciate your feedback and so fun that you recognized yourself in the Pinterest screenshot! Your gray hair is gorgeous and an inspiration to me!!

  5. Reply

    Cindi

    I started turning gray at 21. I inherited my white hair from my dad, who also went prematurely gray. In fact, sometimes when I look in the mirror NOW, I think I look like him. Not good!
    But I digress.
    In order to cover up my gray hair, I dyed it blonde.
    Somewhere around 55 I was tired of dying my hair because of the toll it took on my beautiful, shiny, thick, Italian curly hair (I was the original white woman who first wore an Afro in college back in 1974ish)
    Anyway, after I stopped dying my hair blonde, the dye eventually faded and one day I woke up to perfect snow white hair. OMG! I wish I could show you a picture of it here.
    The only way I stop people from treating me like an old lady, is to get my hair cut like a recent super punk star. Such as Katy Perry….and now I am getting my hair cut like Pink, as she wore her hair at the recent Super Bowl. It’s a pixie cut on steroids with lots of hair gel. I get my hair cut at hip, chic salon, like Super Cuts and YES! I ask for the senior citizen discount (only $13.95 per cut) and I come out looking like a millennial who dipped into her parents Country Club.

    Hey! I’m gray.
    And you’ll do as I say!

    In other words, I’m having fun being gray. Wish I had done it sooner.
    My dad would be so proud!

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Cindi, thank you for sharing your story, very inspiring! I love how you’ve embraced your gray, monopolized on the discounts available, AND you’re rocking it like a millennial!! You GO girl! Pink would be proud of you too!!

  6. Reply

    John Holton

    I followed in my mother’s family’s footsteps and started going gray when I was in my mid-30’s. At least I still have most of it. As a friend of mine once said, “I’d rather it turn gray than turn loose.”

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      LOL – that’s great advice to live by! Thank you for stopping by to read and share your thoughts. It is fun to hear how others have embraced their grays!

  7. Reply

    ghostmmnc

    You’re so brave to let your hair go gray in the natural length of time it took. I don’t think I could do it, and would probably go to a salon to get it all at once. I’ve dyed my hair for years, and every day I say no more, then I put on the dye again. Oh well… 🙂

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I went through that stage too. Eventually, I just said enough, and didn’t go back to the salon for 5 months! That first trip back there was a true test, I almost did the stripping step with the remaining color, but just couldn’t go through with it. You’ll know when and if it is the right time for you! 🙂

      1. Reply

        ghostmmnc

        Thanks, Shelley! I’m sure you’re right, and one of these days I’ll be ready to say so long to hair dye! 🙂

        1. Reply

          Shelley

          When you’re ready, you won’t regret it :-)!

  8. Reply

    frazzledagain

    oh boy, that is a sensitive subject. My husband refuses to go gray. I would like to go white. My hair is a mousy dark blonde and looks very unhealthy when it’s time for a new dye job. For now I will continue to colour. One day I might change my mind. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Yes, it is a sensitive subject. I hated the stage right before I went back in for a coloring. My husband is a hair is just hair kind of guy. You’ll both know when it is okay to do so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!

  9. Reply

    leanneesilver

    I have been toying with this step for the last few months – your post is very inspiring

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      Aw, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I toyed with the idea so many times before I finally just did it. I call that a normal part of the process! I wish you well in your deciding time and I will be here to cheer you on when you decide to go for it!

  10. Reply

    Bakshi Ji

    Your choice is very right mam but those , who have turned grey in their 20’s can prefer color than to improve their physical personality. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Shelley

      They can or they can rock it – think Pink 😉 It’s just hair, and if you’re covering it because you think it is “old” – I beg to differ on the need to improve their physical personality. 😉

    2. Reply

      Shelley

      I’m not buying it to improve on physical looks, but many do ;-)!

      1. Reply

        Bakshi Ji

        Ya mam , you are right 🙂

  11. Reply

    Bakshi Ji

    Nice and inspiring blog for those having fear from going grey. Going grey with age is not a worry , it’s natural but when they go grey in 20’s or 30’s , then one can use colors to improve their looks. 🙂

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