I’ve been watching a lot of hair related videos lately – not consciously, just what YouTube keeps recommending and as a consequence, I’ve ended up braiding my hair before sleep so I wake up tangle free (And with awesome natural waves)

I generally do a classic braid going down my back (well, maybe mid-back) but today I felt like something else and on impulse I put my hair into two schoolgirl style braids.

Yes, you heard that right. I – a grown woman (I’m almost 25, I can call myself that!), voluntarily put my hair into two schoolgirl braids.

Now, you’d wonder why I’m giving you a step by step of my hair but bear with me, I’m just trying to give you context so the next part won’t seem like it’s completely out of the blue.

I looked in the mirror and the first thought that jumped out to me was – I look ridiculous.

And I did, by social norms. But the hairdo reminded me of another time I’d been this daring – and that one was way more impactful.

I was in my last year in Engineering College (Yes, I also voluntarily did five extra years of advanced math) and in India, this is when your college will start to invite companies over for recruitment.

When this incident happened, I was already placed and I’d taken over as Training and Placement Co-ordinator for my class – you know, the person that prints all the CVs you send to the college that will then be forwarded to the company.

One of my tasks was also to deal with the company representatives and help them structure their aptitude tests and interviews , help with logistics and be a three way liaison between them, the college and the students.

Before I tell you the next part, you have to know I’m not a particularly adventurous person by nature and I’m perfectly content to stay in my own sphere unless I need to step out of it.

That day, I showed up to college in pigtails.

Two pigtails, high up on my head – basically, picture Harley Quinn hair, but in black.

And it made such a difference to me that day. I walked around with my head held high and eyed anyone who attempted to judge me. To my slight surprise, there wasn’t much judgement, most people smiled back when I thought they were silently judging me and I was thrown off for a second by what I’d expected and what had ended up happening.

I should probably also mention that I wasn’t handling a company that day, but I was helping out a friend who was, so I was flitting between the Training and Placement Office and the students to announce who was up for the next interview.

I was simply sitting on a sofa, going through my phone when one of the girls tapped me on my shoulder.

I sat up and looked at her – I knew she’d already finished her interview, I’d called out her name about half an hour ago so I looked at her pretty questioningly.

What she had to say surprised me the most and was definitely the highlight of that day.

She looked at me nervously and started

“Your hair looks awesome today and I know not many people would tell you that. I think it probably took courage to wear your hair like that today and not many people could pull it off but you did. You look so confident going about your day with a hairstyle most people would scoff at at our age.

And I’m proud that you had the confidence to pull it off”

I don’t remember her name anymore, or even how she looked, but those words have stayed with me forever.

I learnt an important lesson that day – I truly learnt what confidence was.

Now I hope the hair rant made sense but I’m going to transition to a more direct approach.

Confidence is how you see yourself.

Not your friends, not others. You.

I’ve had conversations with multiple people over the years who’ve been in tough positions and their confidence has been at an all time low. And I want to do to them what that girl did to me that day.

I want to tell you that you’re going to be fine.

Yes, you don’t feel like it right now. Maybe you’re going through something and need someone to tell you it’s going to be alright.

Well honey, you’re going to be alright.

You may not feel like it now, and that’s valid. That’s completely normal.

Just because someone has felt worse than you does not invalidate your feelings. It does not invalidate the fact that you can’t dance for joy at this very moment. Because for better or for worse, you’re busy fighting your own battles to help out with theirs.

So many people feel bad for feeling bad and I hate that as a society we put up happy fronts for everyone. We tell everyone to be happy. But it’s inevitable that people get sad.

It’s inevitable that they feel down and sometimes telling them that they can’t be sad is the worst thing you can do.

Be sad, for a while. Then pull yourself out of it. You may need a helping hand and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If people help you out when you’re in a tight spot it doesn’t make you a bad person for accepting the favour, it makes them good people. It’s sad that sometimes we’re so jaded that we’ve forgotten that good people exist. People that notice you’re drowning and carry you ashore.

We’re sometimes so scared to grab that lifeline because we’re worried how we’re going to pay them back.

Sometimes you can’t. And that’s alright.

Am I asking you to mooch off of kind strangers.

God, no.

But am I telling you you don’t have to feel guilty about that one time this kind old man helped you out when you were lost?

Yes. That’s what I’m telling you.

I’m telling you to stop and breathe. And to accept that bad things have happened.

Maybe they’ve happened to you today, yesterday, this week or the one before.

And if no one has said this to you yet – I’m so sorry that it happened to you.

I’m so sorry that your world is crumbling and your foundation may be shaking.

But I want you to know you’ll come out of this trial victorious.

You’ll live to tell the tale to wide eyed observers who will be inspired by it.

You’ll tell this tale to people and laugh out it, you’ll tell it like what it’ll end up being – A story.

Just like this one I just told you – A Tale of Two Pigtails.

(Featured Photo by Ian Froome via Unsplash)