A Letter to Myself
-Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, student
Dear Betty Jeanne,
I'll never stop being proud of you.
You haven't stopped throwing yourself out of your comfort
zone during the first twelve days of this incredible
experience. And now, with your hands trembling and your
mind doubting and a thousand thoughts running through your
mind, you're going to shave your head tomorrow. I'm stunned.
You have many things to be proud of, and while having the
Captain of a ship shave your head isn't the most
important human virtue, courage and trust in yourself
(not to mention the underlying ability to face one of your greatest
life-long hesitancies and fears) are.
It might be a difficult couple of months, losing a physical
part of your identity, worrying what people who aren't
experiencing this voyage with you will think when you get home,
crying because of the shock, wondering whether your
friends will still accept you, waking up to little or no hair,
and of course risking painful sunburn of the scalp!
Don't lose faith. For a person who's been more than her share
of self-conscious, all of that is to be expected. You
want to cry right now, I know it. Tomorrow and maybe after that
you probably will. For many many reasons.
It's only hair, that's the funny thing.
It will grow back soon enough.
It says something about the vanity of your culture,
doesn't it? Did you ever, or did anyone ever, realize
how much they relied on a silly thing like hair? Of course you might
discover it's a larger and more misshapen head than you thought.
And you'll get some looks. Not everyone will support
you, not everyone will have been able to be as uninhibited and
brave as you, not everyone will understand.
But you have many people who love you.
And even if they need a period of adjustment, you'll realize and they'll
realize how this makes you MORE incredible.
You're doing something so many people will never have the
courage to do. You're throwing away something sure
about yourself, a quintessential part of your identity.
You're taking a huge risk. A huge risk.
But relax! Betty Jeanne, you're about to faint!
This will be something you'll remember your whole life,
and be so proud of. You can say you did this. You'll
challenge every expectation you or anyone else has ever had for you.
You will see that you are capable of anything.
I'll be here for you even if no one else is. I promise.
Love, Betty Jeanne