Embracing the Silver Lining

The news of my greying hair came from an unexpected source - a friend. It was fitting in a way. When he leaned in for closer inspection, and casually commented, "So you're going grey, then," I couldn't help but feel a twinge of annoyance. I mustered a hollow laugh and took a sip of my drink, trying to brush off his remark.

It was the summer of 2021, and we had decided to celebrate the easing of lockdown with a weekend getaway on a West Coast Beach. Like many men I’d embraced the trend of growing out my hair, looking more like Tom Hanks in Castaway than Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings. The awkward "growing out" phase was easy to hide on Zoom, but not so much on a sunny day in West Auckland. I anticipated some shit talk when we met, but I didn't expect it to be about the colour rather than the style of my hair. Let's just say I'm no George Clooney, especially in terms of going grey. Upon close inspection that day, and every day since then, I've noticed that my transformation into a silver fox (or perhaps a badger?) is happening gradually. It's mostly evident in the beard and temples, where a touch of silver. This gradual process allows me to adapt to the inevitable; according to dermatologists, around 50 percent of people will have 50 percent grey hair by the age of 50. At 36, that means I am likely 14 years away from fully embracing my greying hair.

If one wants to fight against the greying process, there's only one real option: dye. Don't dismiss this as a relic of the past.  However, the problem with this route is that hair doesn't just change colour as we age; it also tends to become more coarse or wiry. Combine that with the natural lines and wrinkles that come with experience, and having rich auburn locks can seem rather incongruous.

But who really cares? On TikTok, there's a trend where people post videos of their aging parents followed by vintage photos from 20 years earlier, showcasing their youth. The tone is one of affectionate disbelief as each generation discovers the undeniable truth that people age. Go figure. It makes all the frantic attempts to resist the natural aging process—such as expensive moisturisers, fat-dissolving injections, and Botox—seem somewhat tragic. I found a quote that sums this up perfectly, "We die so others can be born / We age so others can be young." While they probably didn't have men's hair in mind, it's a timeless truth that should guide our approach to vanity. You had your time as the embodiment of youth; now pass it on before you become a figure of ridicule.

Besides, I won't be the first to observe that a little grey hair on top can be empowering. Throughout most of human history, we held reverence for the elderly who managed to survive, just as we admired the young for their vibrant appearances. Even in 2023, this notion hasn't completely vanished from society. When you find yourself in important meetings or making life-altering decisions, pretending to have it all figured out (as most of us do most of the time), having hair that shimmers in the sun can be comforting. It seems to say, "Here’s a man who probably has a rough idea what’s going on”, it seems to say, which if nothing else is a big improvement on your twenties.

In a world obsessed with youth and eternal vitality, it's easy to forget that aging is a natural part of life. We often go to great lengths to hide the signs of aging, including covering up those first few strands of grey hair. However, there is an unexpected joy that comes with embracing the greying process. Going a bit grey can be a transformative experience that allows us to embrace our natural beauty and redefine our relationship with aging. Let’s face facts & explore the unexpected joy of going a bit grey and why it's time to celebrate the beauty of silver strands.

Embracing authenticity:

One of the most empowering aspects of going grey is embracing authenticity. For years, we have been conditioned to believe that youth and vitality equate to beauty. But, by allowing our hair to go grey, we are challenging societal norms and embracing our true selves. Going grey is a statement of confidence and self-acceptance, signalling that we are proud of the journey we have taken and the wisdom that comes with age.

Time and money saved:

Let's face it—maintaining coloured hair can be time-consuming and expensive. Frequent trips to the supermarket for touch-ups, and constant maintenance can become a burden. Going grey eliminates the need for regular colouring sessions and saves both time and money. Imagine the freedom of waking up and not having to worry about your greys showing through. Embracing the natural greying process allows for a simpler and more carefree hair care routine.

A new chapter of personal style:

Going grey opens a world of exciting possibilities for personal style. As our hair transforms, we can experiment with different haircuts and styles that suit our evolving look. Grey hair can be incredibly versatile and invites us to reinvent ourselves and embrace a new chapter of personal style.

A symbol of wisdom and experience:

Grey hair has long been associated with wisdom and experience. When we allow our hair to go grey, we wear our life's journey on our heads. Each strand represents the challenges we have overcome, the lessons we have learned, and the experiences that have shaped us. Embracing grey hair is not just about aesthetics; it's about wearing our stories with pride and embracing the beauty that comes with a life well-lived.

Inspiring others:

By embracing the joy of going grey, we become an inspiration to others. In a society that often fears aging, seeing individuals confidently rocking their silver strands can challenge the notion that youth is the only measure of beauty. When we embrace our grey hair, we empower others to do the same. We become trailblazers for a more inclusive and diverse definition of beauty, celebrating the natural and authentic beauty that comes with age.

So, let's take a leap of faith, ditch the hair dye, and discover the unexpected joy of going a bit grey.

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