It was like any other night. I was laying in bed at my parents' house over spring break, while Snapchatting my friends. I ran my fingers through my freshly-washed hair, and drew a circle with my finger around the weird textured spot I had been feeling for the past couple of weeks.
Normally, I thought nothing of this odd-feeling spot because I would touch it post-workout, when my hair was in a tight, sweaty ponytail. However, this time, I decided I wanted to see what the spot looked like for myself. I pointed the camera at the spot and took a picture.
When I looked at it, I was immediately horrified. “What the f*ck?” I blurted out as I stared at the picture. There was a bald spot on my head, and it was as big as a 50-cent coin.
Not knowing what to do, I Snapchatted the picture to my closest friends with the message, “Happy spring break from me and my bald spot.” Still in shock, I walked to my bathroom mirror and lifted up my hair to reveal my newly discovered, hairless patch.
As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, my head was in its usual state of health anxiety. I went downstairs and calmly said to my mom, “Hey, I have a bald spot on my head.” My mom, who is used to my self-diagnosing, rolled her eyes and asked me to show her.
I lifted up my hair. She immediately sent a picture to our neighbor – a dermatologist who ironically enough specializes in hair loss – and asked him to make yet another house call. My parents tried to calm me down as I constantly asked them if I was going to die.
Everything on Google was telling me that I would lose all my hair within the next few weeks, and that I should start wig shopping. My neighbor came over and told me I either had a cyst or bump on my head, which caused my hair to fall out. If it wasn't that, I had a mild case of alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks your hair follicles.
I cried for days and obsessed over the spot. It has now been almost two months since I have discovered it.
Turns out, I've grown quite fond of the smooth, bald patch that's hidden by my long, dirty-blonde hair. The experience has surprisingly taught me a lot about myself, and has given me unexpected new insights:
1. I wake up thankful every day.
In the grand scheme of things, a bald spot on my head is extremely miniscule. I was born into a great family, have never spent a night at the hospital and live in a country where it is safe for a woman to walk down the street alone.
My little bald spot has taught me to be grateful, and to enjoy the little things in life that so people may never get the chance to experience. Bad hair day? Hey, at least I'm not going through chemotherapy and dealing with a life-threatening illness.
2. I realize how often girls talk about their looks.
For the first few weeks after my discovery, I became hypersensitive to anything hair-related. I began to count the times my housemates talked about shampoo, haircuts and their newest set of highlights.
In no way are my friends vain, but why do girls constantly need to talk about what is going to make them more attractive? I'm all for trying new beauty tricks, but some girls do not seem to shut up about it.
What would have been a conversation I would normally have contributed to had me rolling my eyes and wondering why nobody wanted to talk about why it was 75 degrees in February.
3. I see how much of an emphasis society puts on women's hair.
I once heard that a girl's best accessory is her hair. Yes, hair can be stunning. It can be styled with regard to every personality type.
But “best accessory?” Really? The amount of advertisements aimed at women that claim to give them perfect hair is obnoxious.
Sure, everyone wants flawless hair. But I've had enough of the advertisements telling girls they need $20 conditioner to be confident in their appearance. The obsession seems silly, considering we will be grey one day.
4. I learned not to criticize another person's appearance.
Pre-bald spot, I could not understand why anyone would think it was OK to attach hair extensions to his or her head. I honestly thought it was fake and tacky.
Then, I realized that one day, I might need them myself. Why should I care what anyone else does, as long as it makes him or her feel comfortable? I learned not to judge others for things I did not do myself.
We all have things we want to change about ourselves: hair-related or otherwise. If it makes someone happier, who am I to judge?
5. Nobody is perfect.
Yes, we have all heard the phrase “Nobody's perfect,” either in a "Hannah Montana" song or from an elementary school teacher. Everyone has insecurities, but it is up to us to decide how we react to our individual flaws.
Stop comparing yourself to a Victoria's Secret model. I'm sure she did not wake up with soft waves and a glowing tan. I thank my bald spot for reminding me that perfection does not exist, and that it's OK to go to class with last night's makeup on.
My bald spot has put my life into perspective in the best way possible. No matter whether I have hair the rest of my life or go bald, I'll be OK.
It is only hair. In the meantime, I can grow out my hair and donate it to those who are bravely fighting illnesses, or to those who were born bald and beautiful.
I do not stress the small stuff, and have learned to surround myself with those who love inner beauty. Looks may not last forever, but character and gratitude go with you to the grave.