Where acceptance is all there is
Hey everybody, I need some advice! I'm going to be a freshman in college in the fall and I'm about to ditch wearing wigs (which I've been wearing for ~8 years), in the summer. I've thought long and hard about going bare-headed again, as I am tired of stealthing all time for friends and peers, I can't do as much physical activity as I'd like to, and I feel that I don't look like my gender identity with my wigs.
I was just wondering what I should do to help transition into my new home. What should I expect from people on and off campus and how should I handle it? I've had alopecia since I was 4 and I'm afraid I'm going to revert back to being shy and self-conscious like I was before I started wearing wigs. I really just want to be honest to others out there who don't/might know me and I especially want to be honest to myself, and to feel confident. I can't wait for college to start (and my senior exams to be over), but I'm just a little apprehensive about the whole ordeal!
I went through the same thing when I started college - it's a great opportunity to start over and find your identity. Ditching the wig/hat is a big step and it can be pretty scary, but it's the most freeing and relieving thing you can do in your situation. That fear of someone "discovering" your condition can be outright crippling and can make you miss out on so many wonderful opportunities in life.
You can expect to get a few stares (I get a weird pleasure out of staring right back) and the odd rude person coming up to you and asking if you have cancer, and that is 100% the worst case scenario. But for each person like that there are 200 people who don't care and are feeling just as nervous and self-conscious as your are for various other reasons. There will be moments where you will be tempted to retreat back to the wig but if you can hold off - those moments will diminish until it feels normal to be bare-headed and slowly but surely your confidence will begin to take structure. It takes time and effort but it's SO worth it.
I definitely back your plan to get comfortable with it this summer before you head out to college - if you can be ok with being bald in your hometown you'll be fine anywhere else. Good luck and have fun!
my son started as a freshman last september. he doesn't wear a wig and was just accepted for who he was and what he looked like. as a matter of fact, he told me that he saw another boy on campus that also had alopecia. good luck with your studies!!!!!!
I agree with Danny, it is a fresh start and a time to explore your identity further because so much is happening already. In no way am I trying to minimize what you feel, but you are going to have so much to focus on anyway, and you may find that (depending on what school you're at) people can be more open-minded. There are going to be jerks who ask if you have cancer to fulfill their own selfish curiosity, but you can take em, just say, "Not that it's any of your concern, but luckily no." (Not to worry you, but I disagree with Danny that the cancer question is the worst...asking if you are a skinhead is the worst. You just say "No way, I'd NEVER judge someone by how they look" and watch them try to wriggle outta that!). Alopecia can be an opportunity to mess with dicks who are less than kind haha.
As for the bare-headedness, this is soooo common. Have you ever been to a mountain lake or the ocean? Think of it like that moment you're standing on the edge and hesitating to jump in the freezing water. "Just do it!" you and your friends say. "1...2...3!" It's that first step outside that's the most nerve-wracking, but you get used to it. You could do it gradually, like go from wig, then hat, then scarf, then au natural. Or in certain places. Dorm, then a semi-public area like a movie-theater where it's dark, then a secluded corner of a library or park, then full-on public like class or out and about. You can do it, I promise. IF you try and it's not right then it's not a failure, it's finding your boundary. Many people wear wigs no matter what, and that's their own choice. Getting to know yourself is cause for success and you will do A LOT of discovery in college with alopecia being one of the millions of things you'll face. It's gonna get interesting, I promise you that, but it's a fun ride.
Best of luck to you in all your endeavors,
I understand you!
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