By Gaurav Ganti via UN Online Volunteers
I was 13, when I first noticed the small clump of hair in my hand as I took a shower. The implications of this did not strike me until a couple of years had passed. Fast forward 7 years, and my male pattern balding has progressed quite far.
I have never considered being bald to be an issue. Yet, every time somebody asked me why they could see more of my scalp than was normal, I would feel a twinge of regret. A twinge of regret that was tied to the fact that I would always be different from people who had nice wavy locks, or curly frizzy hair. People, for whom a haircut lasted more than a few minutes, and could include a variety of different styles which were beyond me. Tied to these occasional twinges of regret, is an unfortunate comparison to what my life could have looked like, if I had more hair. This unfortunate tendency to associate our body images with our problems in life, is what leads to the genesis of a cycle of insecurity that doesn’t break very easily.
However, these twinges of regret continued to remain occasional, and I got used to people staring at my receding hairline, while they spoke to me. What troubled me more, was the fact that there were bigger issues out there. There were people who suffered from genetic disorders, people who were openly bullied because they weren’t thin. The world seemed filled with people who had issues which were more problematic than mine. It was with this mindset, that I began to be filled with a degree of disgust every time I thought of my receding hairline. This comparison to other’s problems, was proving more harmful than a comparison to other’s wavy locks.
These aren’t issues which are uniquely linked either to me, as a person or my receding hairline, as an issue. I believe that anybody who is a victim of circumstances, often tries to appropriate some amount of blame to themselves, for playing up problems which are small, in relation to the rest of the world. They are also people who continue to be victims of abuse, where it is important to note that abuse isn’t always from people with bad intentions. So, I think it is important that I share how I tackled these issues, in the hope that my receding hairline can teach other people the lessons it taught me.
A friend told me, “Balding is a condition, being bald is a choice”. I decided to shave my head. I was now bald, but felt empowered because I had reclaimed the narrative. It was now my choice, and I could claim as much. I also realized that no problem is too insignificant. Our inability to show compassion to people who we believe have small problems (“Oh, he’s fat because he eats too much”), is often an active inhibition to us showing compassion to people for whom this problem might shape their life. A degree of compassion and empathy can be derived only when we realize that a small problem for me, might be a huge problem for others.
Yet, for those of you who feel like they are victims of circumstances, and feel helpless, reclaim the narrative. Never let anybody tell you to feel ashamed. Never believe that you have no choice, and that circumstances control you. Because they don’t.
Nature took some of my hair away. The day I got ahead of nature and got rid of the rest myself, I looked back at nature and laughed because I had got there first. I had reclaimed the narrative of balding, from nature and society. And I had never felt so ameliorated.