My Kryptonite!My Power! My Hair 💇🏾

I am at my most vulnerable wearing a black cape, stood in front of a mirror with my hairdresser one step behind me, waiting for a worded response which will hopefully convey the opposite of what my face is saying.

I have that type of face that doesn't need to say anything. My face is like an etch-a-sketch! Emotions drawn right on there!

It's okay. My long suffering hairdresser knows me well enough not to feel offended. She is a hair magician and has the patience of a saint. She knows this is all about me.

And the vulnerable hair journey I go through every time I have a lapse of boldness and decide on a new hairstyle.

Every…….Single……..Time!

Growing up pre-internet in a white household in a predominantly white neighbourhood is the root of my issues. I didn't get my hair done properly until I was about nine years old which not only affected the growth of my hair but my pain threshold! Long before the days of YouTube where you can teach yourself anything, my mum used to stick a pink bow in my hair and send me on my way!

I didn't give my hairstyle a second thought until it was time to go to Middle School. I'd gone from being a frog in a pond to a tadpole in the ocean! Rather than feeling comfortable that I was no longer the only black person in my year, I felt more exposed. Misplaced!

In Primary School, no-one commented on my colour, my skin, my hair – I was just 'Emma'.

Not only did I get taunted for having dry skin and a 'picky' head but I placed myself on a comparison scale. The school playground became my YouTube and I saw what hair could look like. It wasn't something that was just a minor addition, it became the biggest part of me!

Hair relaxers, curly perms, hair pieces, extensions, braids, bleaching – I did the lot! I frequently changed my hair. Wearing each style with confidence! I was no longer a tadpole. For years I felt comfortable with my surroundings.

Then, work happened. Putting me in the spotlight. Making me once again feel exposed.

Unlike primary school, where I was just 'Emma', work life and adults strengthened the roots of my issues and added to my insecurities.

  • Each time I had to talk through my hairstyle – often explaining that it wasn't all my hair – to be greeted with confused stares or a scroll of further questions.
  • Each time someone grabbed my hair to have a feel without even asking, pulling at the roots in the process, which FYI fucking hurts!
  • Each time I was asked why don't you have an 'afro' or 'dreads' or hair like *insert black female celebrity*?

A part of my hair confidence would wither!

I'd get my hair done when I 'needed' to. When it was literally hanging by a thread. Keeping to a 'safe' style and for the first few weeks after having a new style I would wear it up to try and disguise it.

I know people don't mean to make me feel bad and it's nice that they're showing an interest. But each time I get my hair done I feel like I'm stepping onto a talent show. With every person turning into an expert on hair and becoming a judge! "This is nice but I liked the other style better" or "This is the best style you've had". I almost expect Len Goodman to pop up with a 'SEVEN!'.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive but, if I'm struggling to sleep the first few night of my new hairstyle due to fear of the comments I'm going to get, then I can't just continue to ignore my feelings. As I said before, my hair became the biggest part of me. So when my hair is getting critiqued then so am I!

New hairstyles and vulnerability go hand in hand.

This is the first time I've actually sat down to take into account all the vulnerability buttons that are being pushed when it comes to my hair. So many factors come into play and thanks to my new hairstyle I've had a therapeutic journey up to Leeds thinking about it.

*Apologies to the guy sat opposite me from London to Peterborough as I was typing away, trying to hold my tears back, whilst eating an egg sarnie!!

Finally sharing my feelings about my hair vulnerability on my blog has definitely helped me get some kind of closure (hair pun to those in the know).

So here you have my new hair and the story behind how I feel about it.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

Some of my hairstyles

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 The Way of the Ambivert. 

“The cleaner told me that there’s some staff in this building that eat their lunch in the toilets” proclaimed one of the ladies in my office. 

This prompted shocks and confusion from us all. Someone putting it down to ‘perhaps they had an eating disorder’!

Getting stuck into my book ‘Quiet’ on the way home from work – delving back into the world of the shy, the introverts, the sensitive and highly reactive folk and I was transported back to my teenage days and to one specific phase. 

It was the most solemn time of my life. High school work experience. I may as well have been on a silent retreat in India……………………..

Too shy to eat my breakfast in the canteen – I took it to the ladies toilets. Grabbed myself a cubicle and silently scoffed my toast! 

This developed into a routine over the 2 weeks I was there. My penchant for making toilets into pop up canteens thankfully ended when the work experience finished. And I all but forgot about it until yesterday. Literally flushed away that part of my past. 

You could put that down to me being a 15yr old who hadn’t yet grown in confidence but my painful shyness began to materialise in other ways. 

Fast forward to my early twenties and office life.  Where the thought of doing the tea run gave me palpitations……….interrupting people to ask if they wanted a drink, making said drink to their liking – oh hey there sweats! It was another example of how tea doesn’t cool you down! 

So I lied. “I don’t really drink hot drinks”. If only they knew – I’m sure that my family helped put Yorkshire tea on the map, the amount we drank! My Dad alone in fact! So I stuck to water – all day! I can thank my shyness for developing a healthy habit and my glowing skin – I guess. 

As I get a deeper understanding of the points made in this book ‘Quiet’ author ‘Susan Cain’ has become my new hero for bringing this information to my attention. 

I felt rather smug after answering true or false to 20 questions to see where I was positioned on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Slap bang in the middle. “Hello my name is Emma and I am indeed an Ambivert!”

I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve been greeted with eye rolling and laughs of disbelief when I’ve said that I’m shy. And yeah, I suppose I get it. To the outside world, the extrovert part of me leads the dance. My naturally booming voice, my welcoming smile and my adventurous nature makes everyone presume that I’m all confident. 

Many people don’t want to listen to my reasonings why I’m not a full on extrovert. Tying to prove myself right, whilst not only a tiring process, also makes me comes across as defensive and somewhat abrasive. A shy person wouldn’t be like that now would they? Bloody can’t win.

So when I purchased this book, which had been sat on my ‘Amazon wish list’ for sometime, I felt like I had someone on my side for once. Cheers Susan. It also started to answer so many of my ‘Why am I like this?’ questions that I’ve been storing. 

Excitedly underlining line after line of text whilst going all Churchill nodding dog. I wished for my highlighter when I read the following: 

‘Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.’ 


After re-reading the paragraph at least 3 times, I wrote the words ‘ME’ sandwiched in-between two arrows and I knew right then what my next blog post was going to be about. 

This book came to me at the right time as I was starting to feel uneasy as I began to share more about myself on my blog. I find it easier to share my thoughts and feelings to the world not because I’m confident to do so but because I’m not confident enough to share with people in the flesh! 

Fear of feeling awkward, being judged or having to further explain or prove myself would stop me. Then there was an additional fear that the person would try and ‘fix me’ or break my tension with throwaway ‘I’m listening’ comments like: “I know”, “don’t be silly”, “me too” or “it’ll all work out”. Or that absolute stomach churning feeling of speaking to someone who ‘listened‘ with dead eyes!

For the past 8 or so years I’ve been on a path of self improvement, trying to gain more confidence and eradicate the introvert side of me. I got frustrated when the more I moved out of my comfort zone, the stronger my feelings of introversion and anxiety would get. 

Another line in the book, a quote by Dr. Schwartz, states:

“Free will can take us far, but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits”

Reading this was like a big hug. A feeling of comfort washed over me and I fell a little bit more in love with the person that I am. I semi extroverted – semi introverted person. An Ambivert if you will. 

So if you happen to be one of those people that eats your lunch in the toilet. Or doesn’t like to get involved in the tea runs. 

I’ll let you know now for all the personal development I’ve done and the amount I’ve grown over the past few years, I still:

  • Feel anxious when having people visit my house (to stay over/for dinner)
  • Rehearse phone calls in my head before dialling 
  • Sometimes turn the other way when I see people I know 
  • Hover at the side of the room at networking events and workshops waiting for someone to speak to me 
  • Feel really uncomfortable being sat next to someone on a train
  • Feel nauseous at the thought of speaking off the cuff in large groups

That’s the introvert side of me and she’s here to stay. I’m going to pay that side of me as much respect as I do the extrovert side –  as the world without introverts would be chaos. 

Emma x

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Instagram: @emmalouhalliday