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How Watching “Nappily Ever After" Changed My Life

But here is the catch, it didn’t have much to do with hair.


I know what many of you are thinking “Chea Watched a short film about loving your natural hair and now she wants to do the same. How Cliché’. For those of you who know or follow me, it would be very unorthodox for me not to be seen wearing some type of extensions. Honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I voluntarily wore my natural hair. You might have seen me throw on a hat for class because my stylist canceled my appointment, or maybe I couldn’t afford to get my hair done at the time.  Other than that, Natural” was NEVER my thing. It was never my first choice, honestly was a last resort.  So, YOU’RE WRONG.  This isn’t a “come to Jesus moment” about hair.  In fact, “Nappily- Ever –After “changed my life for a reason deeper than just my personal appearance.

If you have never watched the movie I will give you a little back ground knowledge. When we first meet Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan), a high-strung marketing exec obsessed with embodying everyone else’s idea of perfection, she’s slipping out of bed to do her makeup and have her marriage-obsessed mother flat-iron her hair — all before her handsome boyfriend, wakes up. But Violet is headed toward a breakdown even if no one else realizes it. When she gets a puppy instead of a marriage proposal from Clint Violet unravels. She realizes that living the perfect life -- with the perfect hair -- might just be overrated. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery that begins with a dramatic hair makeover. She leaves her man, shaves her head after several botched makeover attempts, and rethinks her career. As she pieces her life back together with the help of soulful barber, she starts to realize that she was not living her life to the fullest. So, in the end, she begins to do just that- LIVE.

Although the main focus of the movie is about a Black woman’s hair, unintentionally it made me realize that I unintentionally struggling with “perfectionism”, or at least appearing to be. Now I realize that this so called “perfection” may have been costing me my happiness.

Since a young girl, I was always taught that image was everything. “Always keep your hair and nails done.” “Stand up straight.” “Walk with your head held high.” Sound educated.” “Never come out the house looking a mess.”

I had to be well-rounded. I danced, competed in pageants, and was heavily involved in my community.

I had to be a perfect student. I always received a scholarship for some sort. I had to make sure I got a good job after college.

I had to be the perfect daughter, the perfect role model for my siblings.

I had to be the perfect girlfriend so one day I could become someone’s perfect wife.

You may think, what is wrong with striving for perfection? Shouldn’t you want all those things? Honestly, I am realizing, EVERYTHING.

I always was praised for being “well put together”, as if I was a doll or something. Even to this day everyone thinks I have it all figured out. If I was ever caught “slipping”, everyone would raise an eyebrow. I could I hear the questions now.

If I didn’t have on makeup- “Are you okay? You look sick.”

If I didn’t dress up- “Is something going on? Are you stressed?" I'm guessing if I wasn't everyone's version of "perfect" or what everyone expected something was wrong with me.

Even though I appeared to be physically together, I was mentally a mess. I never had anyone to confide in because I was always the one giving advice. I always had all the answers. At least for everyone else and not myself. I always had to be strong for others. Constantly it felt as if I was pouring into everyone else and my cup was always empty. No matter how broken I felt inside, I still had to brush myself off and make sure the next time some saw me I appeared with a smile on my face and a positive image.

With everyone having their perception and opinion of me and how I should live my life, I started to wonder and question a lot of things. Was I living to please others or myself? Was I striving for these things it's what I'm "supposed to do" or was I slave to society's perception? Even though some of these things I genuinely loved. I feared that I was living the life I was supposed to only because it was I was pressured and it was expected, not based off my true happiness. Unintentionally I found myself competing with people I didn't know. Who was going to get their dream job first? A new car? A boyfriend? Go on vacation? Splurge on a shopping trip? All of these likes and smiles but nobody is truly happy. Sometimes social media can be the devil. Unfortunately this rat race was a lot of my peers.

Well enough about me. I realized that wasn't the only person going through this. I watched this movie with a close friend of mine and we discussed some of our fears. He had a passion for music but chose to pursue an accounting degree because that was what everyone wanted expected him to do. His entire family wanted him to be an successful business man, owning his own accounting firm. While studying accounting in college he developed a love for the field, but still loved music more. I've seen this story so many times before. College students would major in social work, biology, or many other fields because that was what everyone was telling them to do. Many of them would never even finish school or work in their field.

Like many of us, he was battling with what he should do next He felt lost. Should he do what he liked? He had a promising future. This is what everyone expected, and what everyone was looking forward to. Should he pursue what he loved, even though the outcome was uncertain? Was it too late? The pressure from the decision was effecting him mentally and it was obvious that he had a tough decision to make soon.

There some people who fall on the opposite side of the spectrum. One of my colleagues told me that she began to rebel because her mother tried to control every aspect of her life, from the way she dressed to the college she attended. She began to make always do the exact opposite of what her family expected. I asked her, "Was she happy now?"and she actually looked puzzled. I could tell that she wasn't so sure. If she wasn't truly happy with the decisions that she she was making, it shows that she didn't have it all figured out either.

After watching the film I began to make some small, yet impactful changes in my life. I began to look for a new start, only focusing on what I wanted and needed out of life. If it didn't make me happy, I didn't do it. If that meant saying "no" more, so be it. Oddly enough, I became more goal oriented and driven. More focused. I started to block out the noise and keep my tunnel vision. I stopped asking for others' opinions, thus, I started to getting more accomplished. I decided to not let anyone stop me, not even myself. I stopped letting the fear of "looking crazy" haunt me, even if that meant talking to myself on the world wide web. I stopped asking for answers

from people, because I realized that the most important answer I needed was from myself. Shockingly, I gained a lot of supporters, people who I never even knew were watching or paying attention. Some friends fell off in the process, but that's life right?

For anyone else that may be going through the same thing, first I want to let you know that the emotions are okay. No one wants to be vulnerable these days. There is nothing wrong with a having a weak moment or moments, as long as you overcome them. You will never be someone else's version of perfect, only your own. So that dream you are chasing, make sure it is solely yours. Go after the thing that scares you the most. If your dreams don't scare you then they aren't large enough. Stop looking for everyone's thumbs up and pat on the back. You don't need their acknowledgement to know that you are on the right track. Half of the time those people you are waiting on don't even have a track of their own. The only person you should worry about disappointing is yourself! Don't be afraid to leave the old you behind. We deserve a new start every new day. If people keep bringing up your past, they don't deserve to be apart of your future. Lastly, be 100% you! Not "perfect" you. T ! Someone is going to feel it sooner than later.

See, I told you! This blog would have nothing to do with hair. But oh yeah! I almost forgot, I did chop it all of! Not because of the movie, but because I have been wanting to for awhile but never had the guts! You wouldn't believe that so many people were telling me not to! The world would have missed out on bomb #shorthairchea!

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