Hair was never a good look for me.
Photographic evidence recently surfaced when I showed my kids a high school yearbook image. My daughter giggled as my son proclaimed, “Maybe you do look better bald.” While that may be true, I still went into shock when I began losing my hair at nineteen years old.
Hair loss was not part of the plan. So I obsessed about how it would impact my life. Work? Goals? Relationships? I mean, I was never a ladies’ man but . . .
I decided to take action.
First, I planned to save hairs by shampooing less often. And no more styling gel. Then I grew it out to look thicker. Next, I wore a hat to conceal it.
I eventually asked my parents for Rogaine as a birthday gift (because I was too self-conscious to buy it myself). Once I received the gift, its packaging claimed to strictly help the bald spot on heads. Wait, I was losing it everywhere!
Within days, I used the receipt to get a refund. There was no saving my hair. It was going down the drain too quickly. My life was not going according to plan.
Our Many Plans
Ever feel like the world’s conspiring against you? Think about your writing dreams.
We make big plans for our stories. We dream of releasing something into the world that entertains and inspires. We envision these stories connecting with people in special ways.
These plans motivate us to daydream, create, write and rewrite… but our plans are often disrupted by the world.
Like what happened when my first story coach, who offered me a refund, said, “I can’t coach what I can’t comprehend.”
Or when I realized my current novel’s villain lacked depth.
Or when a best-selling novelist likened my platform to a barker outside a circus tent preparing to scam naïve authors.
Or when the sudden death of a loved one paralyzed my writing life.
Life Happens—and It Can Be Messy
If you’re anything like me than you’ve already decided how everything should happen. You’ve written the story of your life inside your head. You’ve foreseen how your plans are supposed to unfold.
The predicament is that your plans take place in the world. And while the world’s been known to be fair, more often it’s chaotic and messy.
That means plans unravel. Hiccups interrupt. Tragedy strikes. When your plans go wrong, it’s easy to think the world’s trying to ruin your life or break your heart.
The world’s not plotting against you though. Your plans are just taking place in an unpredictable environment where you’re not in control. The dark truth is the world may not care about you one way or another. It may be completely neutral to you.
That’s not an easy idea to consider when we’re constantly seeking significance in the world.
An Education via Chaos
You can’t make plans for the world, but you can expect the world to transform your plans.
So I suggest you process setbacks with an openness to discovery. Because misfortune may offer you the chance to become more than your broken plans.
Setbacks can create opportunities for growth and development. Obstacles have the ability to teach. They can help you find lessons in the midst of mayhem.
Like I said before, hair was never a good look for me.
My first story coach taught me the high stakes of becoming a lucid storyteller. The realization that my villain was a weak beast propelled me to analyze how to create a remarkable one. As for the criticism of the best-selling author: I solidified my intentions. Others will not define me.
The death of a loved one? That’s for another day. I’m still processing it. But as of today, I know it wasn’t until I lost my father that I began to actualize what he’d been teaching me for years.
I challenge you to discover something about yourself when the world blindsides your plans. And recognize the world can present circumstances that make it possible to become more.
Maybe it’s improving your writing. Or strengthening your confidence. Or the painful acknowledgement that you can’t control everything.
You must permit yourself to be transformed when the world affects your plans. Because if you refuse the opportunities that emerge from the world’s turning points, you may miss out on a lifetime of growth.
Hair loss cannot forever breed anxiety. Criticism mustn’t kill creativity. Death shouldn’t suppress the living.
I know it’s always easy to profess insight in hindsight. But maybe we can write a new story together, literally and figuratively—one that evolves from every challenge we overcome.