Second Chance Locks – Keven Cotton

Redo. Take 2. Let’s run that back. All are requests for a second chance and all would accurately capture my 2nd go round with locks. I cut off my locks about 6 years ago after having grown them for 4 years. While I can point to several reasons for cutting them off (didn’t think that I could get a job in policy with locks; locks were becoming a fad; my locks were defining me instead of me defining me), I realize now that I gave up on my locks as opposed to fighting through the difficult stages that come with having locks. Unfortunately for me, it took growing locks over again and seeing people with long locks and knowing that mine would have been longer to fully appreciate the locks I had.

If you have locks, you can point to at least 3 periods in the first year of having locks that will make you throw up your hands in frustration. For me, the tough times were: initially growing out my hair, trusting that those baby locks would actually grow into something, and being patient when some of your hair has locked while other sections stubbornly resistant to the process. Couple that with friends and family offering their comments and you’re often left with only your commitment to the process as motivation.

There’s a symbiotic relationship between growing locks and your personal growth. While I was still committed to growing my locks, I didn’t feel that I was growing. That could be why I felt that my locks were beginning to define me instead of me defining me.

After about a year to two years, that commitment is rewarded as you can begin wearing your locks in multiple styles and others begin seeing and appreciating your efforts. The funny thing about having locks for longer than 2 years is that you can find yourself in the “now what” stage. “Now” that your locks are down to or past your shoulders, “what” do you do with them? Perhaps you never thought that your locks would get this long. Maybe you don’t know anyone that can style your locks and you’re tired of pulling your locks back in a ponytail. Or, it could just be a hot summer in DC and your locks make you feel 10-15 degrees hotter. The difficult or trying stages of having locks are not just in the beginning. Throughout the time that you have locks, there will be times when the easiest answer is to cut them off and as well all know, the easy way is not often the best option.

When I cut my locks, I promised myself that I would re-grow them if: 1) went to graduate school; 2) worked in the education field; or 3) started my own business. That was as much a challenge to myself to find a path and follow it as it was a recommitment to my locks. As for my second go round with locks, I’ve been growing my hair since October 2009 and actually twisting/locking since June 2010. My hair is definitely in that 6 month window where some hair has locked and some sections, especially the top of my head, are resisting the locking process. The difference between having locks now and 6 years ago is that I’m ok with the process. I’m ok with my locks looking fuzzy and I’m ok with them freshly twisted. Locks, like any relationship, has its ups and downs. The key to not getting frustrated or just “cutting your losses” is patience, understanding and belief in the end results.

I’ll be honest, in these early stages, I am not ashamed to visit a loctician to get my locks re-twisted. However, when the funds are low, I will set aside the 3-4 hours necessary to wash and re-twist my locks myself. There are many people who have locks who will tell you that going to a loctician or natural hair specialist takes away from the process of having locks. Personally, I’m ok with going to a loctician, especially in the early stages. Getting your locks off to a successful start is critical so whether you go to your cousin, friend, or hairdresser, just make sure that they know what they’re doing. But I also subscribe to the belief that if you have locks, you should know how to re-maintain your locks yourself. Sure, it feels good to have someone scrub your scalp and re-twist your hair while you check your email but that’s the easy way out. Having locks is demanding and time-consuming but it is that process that bonds everyone who has locks. It’s like a badge of honor. If you see someone with long locks, you respect them for the time they put in. At the same time, if you see someone with baby locks, you respect them because you remember when you were just starting out and you can appreciate how far you’ve come.

Locks are definitely a labor of love whose fruits you not see for months, sometimes years. They definitely become a part of who you are and I’m excited to embark on this path once again.

Keven Cotton is an education professional as well as an avid sports fan and blogger. Check out his blog: Opinion on Sports