my identity is not found in my hair

I have been clinging to this outward identity.

Maybe to try to keep the illusion of keeping things together or to not change or to really not let go. I’ve gone through so much in the last two years – divorce and single parenting and travel and discovering myself and my son’s autoimmune issues and finances – and in it all it’s been this place of finding me.

Much stress, my friends, much stress.  It has been a great deal of keeping it together and inside I felt like I was falling to pieces. It’s been being raw and writing my heart. It’s been looking in the mirror and trying to define me for me but still labels and expectations and stuff from the past kept clouding me.

So I know, you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with hair, right? Well, today I cut all my not ever true to me blonde hair and colored it deep dark burgundy brown. Close to the real me and for sure closer then the hyper blonde. I know, bear with me, as I know it’s just hair. But I’m telling you this was one of those moments in life where I didn’t realize how long and how hard I had been trying to keep it all together but in some ways, had lost myself behind unrelenting pressure.

The second I left the salon and drove home I realized how my hair was a picture of me and my life.

I had been clinging to this broken hair for several years – afraid to let it go – afraid to move on – afraid of what people would think – afraid of not hiding – afraid of just being me – afraid of feeling small. Getting identity from it.

The funny thing, is that I know, I know, you all probably saw it as good. That was because I was really really good at hiding it. Yes, me, the gal who talks about real and loving yourself, I had become an expert in making something seem better than it was, and underneath it fighting this angst knowing I needed to let it go. Every video I’d tuck part behind my ears so no one could see how weak and falling apart it was. When I’d get it colored I’d tell them to keep it blonde because I got so much identity from it being a certain way. I wouldn’t let them cut it because I thought it needed to be long.

I really was hiding behind something really really broken.


I really was afraid to let it go.

I really was terrified of who I would be without the crutch of who I thought I was already. Getting rid of everything that defined me would mean that the world would see me differently and I realized that in the core that I was not defined by that hair. Even though I allowed it at this deep level to define me.

It kept me stuck.

It kept me stuck in old identities, old beliefs about me, old questions of worth and it really was something I worked to hide. To keep it together. But, my friends, there comes a day when we all have to look at our lives and say enough and to stop hiding and to start loving us for us.

Not for the outside stuff.

Not for always keeping it together. Not for having perfect lives. Not for having kids that don’t mess up. Not for the size of our body. Not for the color of our hair. Not for any of that outside stuff. Not for successful marriages. Not for awesome jobs. Not for clean Martha Stewart houses. Not for pinterest projects completed. Not for any of that stuff. None of it.

But for us.

But for you.

You right now.

Maybe you’re like me and you have these places you hide behind. Maybe it’s not tucking hair a certain way or turning your head so no one saw or muttering I’m fine’s, but just maybe there’s part of you that you need to let go of so that you can be free to be you.  Maybe you just need someone to remind you of your value and your worth and to realize that it is not dependent on any of that stuff above.

I tell you – I’ve cried for several hours now. And it’s not over my hair. It’s over the realization that I had allowed an external like that to keep me stuck and that now in this place in life I just want to be free to be me. To love freely. To mess up without guilt. To give myself grace. To be a friend. To not worry so much what others think of me. To just be.

That’s why I wrote this. I want that for you too. More than anything.

I just want you to know that you are beautiful for you.


Not for one iota of anything on the outside.

But because you are you.

From me – a broken and yet trying and loving and believer in good to all of you.


I guess it’s time to change the profile picture…

34 Responses to “my identity is not found in my hair”

  1. November 21, 2015

    Melissa Reply

    For what it’s worth, your new hair is stunning!

  2. November 21, 2015

    Andrea Reply

    And this post is another reason why you are loved and followed by so many of us!!

  3. November 21, 2015

    Lauren Greutman Reply

    And what a beautiful hair cut and color it is! Absolutely gorgeous my friend, inside and out.

  4. November 21, 2015

    Annie Smith Reply

    Beautiful! I’ve been through this with a haircut. It’s weird how much hair symbolizes.

  5. November 21, 2015

    Jackie Lee Reply

    ❤️ For your beautiful hair, beautiful you and all you do that helps me to be beautiful me. ❤️ Thank you.

  6. November 21, 2015

    Kelly Reply

    Rachel, Rachel, Rachel! I love and wanna race across a big lake and a big state to give you big hugs right now 🙂

    There are so many times that I’ve felt that way, propped up by a certain set of whatever it was – finding my identity and excuses in it.

    “I’m in this place, it doesn’t feel right, but this place is what makes me me and it’s what people know about me, so I have to be here.”


    Starting somewhere around ten years ago, I started to walk away from places that felt wrong for me. I didn’t lose me – though I lost some flimsy ideas about myself.

    “If I’m single, I’m unloveable” FLIMSY
    “If I give up home ownership, I’m flaky” FLIMSY
    “If I give up a steady day job, I’m irresponsible” FLIMSY!
    “If Sean grows up and leaves, I’m nothing anymore because being a mom is everything worthy about me” FLIMSY!!
    “If this business project ends, if I rebrand, I’ll never make another $!” Totally FLIMSY!

    I’m being true to myself and I’m feeling less flimsy every day.

    You are one of the most beautiful women I’ve met and it has ZERO to do with your hair or any other aspect of your looks. I like how I felt when I was with you.

    And that’s solid stuff right there.

    • November 23, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      I love you Kelly.

      Thank you for being my friend. And for writing this comment. It is awesome. I love you even more and now want to run across that Lake Michigan and give you a hug back.

  7. November 21, 2015

    Rebecca Caroe Reply

    Hey my friend. Big hugs

    I felt the same about not letting the grey show in my hair. So I let it be and grew out the dyed bits.

    Then I rediscovered the fun and have a blond streak only at the front. It’s clearly artificial and folks can see the real color. So I rationalise they can tell what’s the real me and what is my sense of fun in my hair.

    • November 23, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Rebecca, I don’t even know how to tell you how much I love you and how blessed I am your friend. In fact, writing this makes the tears fall fall fall. Love you like crazy. And thank you.

  8. November 21, 2015

    Lindsay Dianne Reply

    You are so wonderful.

  9. November 22, 2015

    Melinda Blakley Reply

    I love your new look ! I love a new style an color and this is really beautiful. Your wonderful inside and out. Thank you for all you do .

  10. November 22, 2015

    Lynn Reply

    You look faaaaaaaaaaaabulous! Hair is such an interesting thing. You know I post on Caringbridge pages and I see what happens when those who are battling cancer are struck with that blow of losing all their hair. Up until that point they could hide what they were going through from the outside world, but when the hair falls out, so does their anonymity. Everyone who passes by them know what they’re going through. So much is connected to hair. But it is just hair. And no matter if we have hair, don’t have hair, color it or let the white shine through (not that I have any experience with that), what’s inside is what counts.

  11. November 22, 2015

    Christine Reply

    Thanks for this post. In the process of fnding myself; now ‘waking up’ after 27 years of having blocked out a childhood filled with sexual abuse. Discovering and laying down my ‘crutches’ one by one. Your posts are so inspiring. May God continue to bless, heal, and keep you and yours always.

  12. November 22, 2015

    Sharon McMillan Reply

    When I met you in Toronto a few years back, you helped me take the leap to voicing my joy in my new blog/website and I have been so thankful for that. I continue to get inspiration from your posts for non-business reasons as you are a real voice about living each day without pretence and looking at our gifts straight in their precious eyes 🙂 These aren’t fairy tales. This is life with all its ups and downs.

    I love this post because what you share is what just about all of us go through in some form or the other. Letting go of our props is hard but so freeing…and strengthening. You are more beautiful for the experience inside and out.

    Thanks Rachel.

    • November 23, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Oh my word, Sharon, tears. Thank you thank you. I am so grateful our paths crossed. I am unbelievably blessed by you.

  13. November 22, 2015

    Therese Reply

    You look amazing! You are so beautiful, inside and out. Carry on, brave mama!!

  14. November 22, 2015

    Beth Ann Chiles Reply

    What a brave post and a brave thing to write about. You are an amazing woman from all that I have seen and read and it is an amazing way for you to share the realness of life. For some reason a woman’s hair is so important to her. If it isn’t right nothing is right. Thank you for being brave enough to take this step, to reveal the real reason behind your transformation and for sharing with us. You are strong and amazing and real and I have been blessed to have been following you for a while on your adventures through your blog and through meeting you at BloggyCon. Thanks!

  15. November 22, 2015

    Jane H. Reply

    Oh Rachel, you look beautiful. I love the color and the cut, but I especially love you and how you allow yourself to be real and vulnerable. And sometimes we don’t know that something like hair, or body size, or possessions, or whatever are holding us back, holding us down because we are dealing with so much other stuff that we don’t have time to even think about it. We come to the truth when we come to it and you have found this particular truth right now and acknowledged it and we all will reap the benefits of your honesty. You are loved and respected by so many. Hugs

  16. November 22, 2015

    Lori Reply

    Wow Rachel, what an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal about yourself. It really made me think of things that I do as well that in all honestly hold me back. I really love your new do. While I don’t know you personally, the new picture looks like “you”. 🙂 Hope that makes sense. I love the warm color. It makes your face look warm and refreshed. Again, hope that makes sense. LOL. I hope that you find true peace in finding the true you again. Again, thanks so much for sharing. Your words and videos always make me feel so much better and make me want to be do better and treat myself better. I deserve it! Take care.

    • November 23, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Thank you so much Lori. I really really appreciate your words and kindness.

  17. November 22, 2015

    Leigha Baer Reply

    My Dear Rachel,
    Congratulations upon coming into your own!
    YOU are beautiful inside and out no matter what color your hair is and I was never fooled into believing that you were perfect even with the high-maintenance hair. None of us are perfect! Thank you for putting this out there for others who are still struggling with coming to terms with their own imperfections.
    I’m so happy for you! You are breaking the facade AND being an inspiration to the many others, especially women, who are struggling with their own self-confidence and worth. The big reward? You have just begun reducing the amount of stress you put on yourself and I for one am thrilled for you! Brunette is beautiful on you!
    Much love and many blessings.

    • November 23, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Thank you Leigha for always being there and for being such a friend. I appreciate you so very much.

  18. November 22, 2015

    Carolyn Reply

    I had been complaining about my hair as it’s texture has changed as it’s gone grey. (I am almost all white under my dark brown mahogany!) And then I made a new friend at a conference.

    She was so confidant and beautiful. I discovered she lost her hair during chemo for breast cancer and it only ever grew back as peach fuzz. She wore wigs, hot uncomfortable and expensive to up-keep. After that I stopped complaining as I bet she would give anything to have a bad hair day, vs a no hair day. Plus her inner beauty was so strong I realized hair didn’t matter.

    Rachel, it’s just hair. People love you because you are the same. Your beauty glows from the inside (no accident your site is called ‘finding joy’). Follow your heart, listen to your inner voice and it will always be OK.

  19. November 22, 2015

    Angela Reply

    You said it all so well, Thank You!!!! I just wanted to say your new hair is beautiful, and although I always thought the blonde looked fabulous, your new look is amazing! I have found so many times in life that keeping it real (well to an extent, I sometimes dye my hair and vary the colors some as I’m not a fan of gray in a 33 year old LOL!) often feels the best. And sometimes we ladies just need a new look for whatever phase of life we find ourselves in. So keep up the good work, you are truly amazing!!!

  20. November 23, 2015

    Mannie Reply

    Rachel. You speak on topics that are my life and I so feel your anguish. It is so silly how we all do that. Thank you for being authentic to yourself and showing others to be true. We all walk this journey, so glad I found you to walk with.

    • November 24, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Thank you, Mannie. It felt so silly – the hair aspect – but it was so beyond the hair. It was so much about identity and self and lies about me that I believed. I really appreciate your kindness.

  21. November 24, 2015

    Beaversan Reply

    As silly as it sounds, this article made me feel so much better about chopping my long blonde highlights off this past Saturday. I was going thru a case of buyer’s remorse with my hair, mainly because it has taken years for me to talk myself into letting it go. But I came across this article on Wearable Therapy about being better on the inside then the outside so I went for it and chopped it all off.

  22. February 7, 2016

    Kimberly Reply

    I just started following about 2 weeks ago – what a beautiful soul you have! Your honesty and vulnerability is so encouraging and comforting – so glad I stumbled on your story. Keep up sharing – it’s such a beautiful moment each day to see a new post! xoxo

  23. December 3, 2017

    Dana Koch Reply

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer January 2017. I lost all my hair while undergoing chemo. I was worried before it fell out, but I actually came to enjoy the freedom of no hair for the seven months it was gone. No haircuts, no hair products, no eyebrow maintenance, no shaving….Put the baseball cap on and go! My once straight hair is now coming back curly! My motto had become “Be thankful for your messes…things could always be worse.” I am a single mom and sole parent (for the last five years) I try to count my blessings every day and enjoy life.

    • December 3, 2017

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Sweetest of blessings to you Dana. Thank you for your perspective and your fight. Sending love.

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