For the most part, I love being single. It’s full of freedom and possibilities. But every once in a while there is a small voice that pops into my head and murmurs to me: “you’re getting older… you’re body’s crumbling… time to settle down!”
Generally I can keep this voice at bay and ignore these destructive thoughts. But this week that little voice stopped murmuring and started yelling, sending my mind into a frenzy. All of these dark, insecure thoughts centered around my age came rushing to me at once as if someone had hit my internal panic button.
Why so much insecurity? Why now? Well, a recent visit to my doctor brought all these thoughts to the forefront of my mind. I hadn’t seen him in three years and in retrospect I wish I had put it off for another three.
No, I didn’t get any catastrophic news… my heart rate is fine, my cholesterol is in check, and my urine “looked good” (whatever that means). So why was it such an awful trip?
Well my loyal readers, when I asked my dear doctor to examine a small bump on my head you know what he told me? He uttered the two most diabolical words for any 26-year-old man: “You’re balding.”
And to pour salt in the wound, I asked him where exactly I was balding to which he proclaimed “Everywhere!” … Thanks Doc. Real subtle. Way to crush a single guy’s heart without even a moment’s hesitation. I should’ve asked him for an immediate referral to a therapist.
Didn’t he know I was happy living under the lie that I just had “naturally thin hair”? Can’t a man just live under such fabrications forever? This dose of truth dug deep.
And since this catastrophic diagnosis, what have I done? Fuckin panicked of course! I started scrambling for a solution, first looking for advice from those who’ve reached the promise land before me — my bald brethren. I got a plethora of suggestions ranging from the use of specialized shampoos, not using shampoo at all, buying Rogaine, and finally my personal favorite: prayer.
In the end, while I did respect the advice of my bald companions, I decided to consult with a pro: my dermatologist. Surely he who had helped hundreds before me would have the antidote! He examined me, reaffirmed my preexistent fears that I was in fact shredding like a golden retriever and prescribed the top drug the market has to offer: Propecia! Certainly this would be my savior as I began my fight.
With newfound hope and my war ally, Propecia, I was ready to launch my first attack! Little did I know then, the war would end in one crushing defeat…
I took the prescribed dosage before bed and drifted off dreaming of my new luscious locks. Of course, when I awoke the dream ended abruptly and the real nightmare began.
I had an uncomfortable pain in my chest and was itching all over. I looked down at my stomach where the itching was most irritable and noticed a row of red dots like a fucking constellation. Then like any panic-stricken millennial would do I Googled Propecia side effects to reaffirm my fears and ran out yelling to my roommate. I was breaking out in hives all over! I looked like I was transforming into an ugly red lizard… savor that image.
Luckily, the rash subsided a few hours later and the pain in my chest lessened eventually. But my hair! My precious hair was still left to wither away. I was back at square one and the fate of joining the bald brethren started to look more like a possibility. The horror!
Would I lose it all? How fast? Should I shave it off? How much are hair transplants? How is there no cure for this? Why didn’t I get married before this? Will I be single forever? I’m doomed.
While it’s embarrassing to admit, all of these thoughts did litter my mind over the last month (just ask my roommates). How pathetic. How could I let these physical insecurities poison my mind? How could I think so small? How could I too cave to the societal notion that balding is a bad thing?
Hair loss is not something we as men should be ashamed of. Our body is just simply letting us know that our youth is gone. We are entering into another stage of life and have no choice but to accept it. As a result, we need to block out societal pressures that suggest we need to mask our baldness.
Women too are plagued with their own insecurities driven by societal pressures to maintain youthfulness. It’s a battle for both sexes that gets harder to fight by the year and by the way, is impossible to win. The repercussions of this battle are especially taxing as the fight takes a mental toll on us.
By trying to look like a former version of ourselves we are ignoring who we are in the present and creating a huge disconnect within. The longer we chase a past version of our self the higher our misery and anxiety will mount.
The best cure is to attempt to look and act like who we are in the present moment. By doing this the truest version of our present self will shine and happiness will again be within reach.
I know that this process will not be easy. As you can see from my horror story, I am still struggling in my own fight to accept my physical changes and embody the present version of myself. But at least now I am conscious of what I need to do – accept this change as a part of life, not an obstacle within life.
And as my friend put it, on a higher level balding is a slight reminder for us that life is not infinite. While we were able to parade around recklessly in our late teens and early twenties, our body is now telling us that we are not invincible. Our time on this earth is limited. We need to accept who we are right now and stop pretending to be what we were in the past. By doing this we can live in the present and start to discover what really matters to the new version of our self.