The most important thing I learned about hair in my journey so far has been patience. Hair grows slowly and it takes a very long time to get to new and exciting lengths.
I cut my chemically colored hair off in summer 2009, it is now 2012 and my hair is a bit past shoulder length. It took me 3 years to grow my hair to shoulder length, without layers. Note to self: never start growing from a pixie cut if you can avoid it, it grows in layers and goes through the unavoidable mullet stage, then you end up with thin ends and it becomes almost impossible to braid or bun the hair without it looking messy.
I wish that I would have found LHC back in 2006 when I first tried to grow out my hair and shaved it all off (yes really). I knew that I needed to get rid of all the chemical dye damage before I could grow beautiful, healthy, long hair so I wanted a fresh start. Unfortunately I hated how I looked and I didn't feel feminine, so naturally I colored it to give it a cute, girly look. That of course turned into damage in about 30 minutes of color processing and my sacrifice was in vain. Now I know there are ways to deal with damaged hair and there are much better alternatives than shaving my head.
When I cut off my dye in 2009 and ended up with a pixie cut I had a much easier time. I didn't feel like I wasn't feminine enough because the hair wasn't short enough for that. I did make the mistake of coloring it again in 2010 though. I used henna this time because it wasn't damaging and 90% of the times I colored my hair it was red anyway. I figured that I wanted that color forever. But in all honesty my natural hair color is the only one I can put up with long term and I can always use temporary dye to have a fun color for a while, until I get bored. Manic Panic is a temporary herbal dye that washes out completely and doesn't damage the hair.
Although I have some regrets about coloring I am very happy with the rest of my journey. In the past 3 years I've learned how to deal with my hair, how to make my length and my scalp happy. I am more grateful for that information than anything else. I've been suspecting that ingredients in my shampoo or conditioner were harming my scalp or that all the chemical coloring I've been doing since 2001 have damaged my scalp in an irreversible way. Fortunately I found alternative ways to color, wash and condition my hair, which saved my scalp from the consistent itching, dryness and uncomfortable feeling. I also found out how to condition and treat my hair to keep it silky, soft and shinny.
I am very happy with my hair right now. I was never this happy with it. When I was little I had long hair but I didn't know how to care for it and it was hell to wash, detangle and to leave it down or try to put it up. I didn't know how to do any of those things in a way that didn't hurt. I can do all of those things now and enjoy them. In a lot of ways I feel as though I have reached my goals. The only goals I have now are to grow my hair to longer lengths and to eventually grow out the henna and have my natural hair color back. I might change my mind about henna, because I do love it and what it does for my hair (except for the color). I'm considering alternatives to getting rid of the red from henna because if I don't I will probably just go back to it after a few months and end up with permanent red hair.
WOW I write long entries. *lol*