About a year ago I decided to stop dyeing my hair. I did this for a few reasons, partly the ongoing cost, partly because of the damage it was doing to my hair and partly because I had decided to just start growing old disgracefully.
As time went on the line between coloured hair and grey/black/brown hair started to become very obvious and annoying. I have been gradually trimming the ends but the endless wait for it to grow out finally got the better of me yesterday and I decided to cut all the colour out.
Now most people would say at this point, “I’ll book an appointment with the hairdresser”. Not me lol, I suppose I could have but the thought of spending money on a haircut irks me no end, particularly when I know it’s not that hard to do myself. I’ve been giving the boys haircuts for 20 years now, how hard could it be? Right? Well, maybe not so easy on yourself 🙂
It turned out alright thankfully, lucky for me I have curly hair which is very forgiving and it will grow out in time.
The point I’m getting to is that this morning I was reflecting on the reasons behind why I do things like cut my own hair when I could get a professional to do it, or why I plaster the walls, build fences, fix plumbing etc. etc.
For the most part, the reasons are simple. I’ve raised five kids over the last 30 years on a low income and I’ve never really had the money to spare to get a professional in to do the job for me. Sometimes this has meant that the job may not have been brilliant, on a few occasions I’ve had to accept defeat and call in the experts to fix my botch job, but only a few. Generally though I have managed to get the job done properly with the help of a few good books or later on with Google by my side.
Sometimes not having enough money to pay people to do these jobs has been very frustrating but there is an upside to this. Over the last 30 years I have come to realise how capable I am. This might not sound like much but to me it is huge. Growing up in a world where girls were expected to look pretty, get married and have babies and leave all the hard work to the men, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to do ‘men’s work’ and this impacted my self-esteem in a variety of ways.
Being boxed into a stereotype has left me cornered in places that no person should be and that lack of confidence in myself kept me there for a long time.
Poverty taught me resilience, it taught me to stretch myself and have a go, it taught me believe in myself and it showed me that I was so much more than I thought I was.
I’m not saying for one moment that you have to experience poverty to improve your self-esteem, in fact I believe it’s often the reverse for a lot of people because the constant battle of trying to keep your head above water is exhausting and debilitating and I know many people who have never been broke and their self-esteem is just fine as so much of this is wrapped up in childhood experiences.
My point is that this is something that I have personally experienced and learnt from, and like any experience it will differ for the individual so please don’t shoot me down if your journey has been different to mine.
Today I am grateful for the benefits that poverty has brought to my life.
I am grateful for the lessons I have learnt, the struggles that have made me stronger, more resilient, more determined to find a way, and for the sheer, stubborn, bloody-mindedness, that has kept me going over the years and stopped me from throwing in the towel and giving up.
I am also grateful that I had the mum I did who was just as stubborn as I am and just as determined to show the world that she was as capable as any man and sometimes better.