Rethinking My Obsession with Split Ends

split ends hair

I have started doing something completely and utterly reckless as a constant productivity whore. I’m letting myself cut my split ends again.

You see, I have a slight problem – maybe even an obsession (borderline Trichotillomania). This trait deeply embedded itself during high school as I became hyper-aware of my hair. My long, luscious locks were a picture of health until I spotted the tell-tale prongs of split ends. Science classes were spent finger-combing my hair; scissors at the ready to snip off any unsightly ends. I’d find feathered ends – almost beautiful – and snarling monsters. Ever since then I’ve been doomed.

I like to think my obsession was initially drawn from a sense of fascination. Hair is glorious; each of us has our own colour/style/thickness. There are curls and waves and dead-straight strands – crimped if you’re really lucky. Call me vain, but I do love my hair. I still play with it constantly (to the point where a razor has been threatened).

But it’s not all light and happy. I’ve missed movies and important conversations because I’ve been gazing down, thumbing through my hairs to find the most bizarre-looking split. I’ve missed green traffic lights. I’ve probably made friends feel really uncomfortable at times, as well as strangers on the bus. I’ve theorised that my early-onset forehead wrinkle situation is a side-effect of all the sidewards staring.

After years of snipping (i.e. keeping a pair of embroidery scissors by my bed for a daily sesh), I decided enough was enough. I moved the scissors away. I tried to avert my eyes. I turned to my phone for a mindless distraction instead of the hairs on my head. I never could drop the constant smoothing or combing my fingers, though. (And the *very* occasional visual check of split-end status, minus any trimming).

I’m also obsessed with productivity. I always need to be doing something to meet an end goal: weekend meal prep to save time during the week, reading to expand my knowledge, exercising to make me feel good. All my snipping offered was a mindless, time-wasting task. Or so I thought.

A topic for another day is my deep and undying love for Gwyneth Paltrow. But, adoration aside, the Goop podcast is a treasure trove of valuable, insightful and illuminating interviews and facts. Recently I listened to ‘The Power of the Unconscious Mind’ – a discussion with Srini Pillay, brain researcher and author of “Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind“.

My takeaway: make time to daydream. Pillay recommends walking or doodling etc., basically taking time out to let the mind wander and do its thing without any stimulus. I walk, but it’s my favourite podcast time. I would love to doodle, but I can’t (or won’t) draw. The most Hannah solution I could think was to allow myself split-end obliterating sessions. And you know what? My mind wandered. Genuine thoughts popped into my head as they used to before I kept my mind constantly stimulated with podcasts and shows and reading.

So maybe I do suffer from Trichotillomania but, in my own way, I think I’m making it work. The timer goes on so that both my chopping and my whirling thoughts are given a limit. Otherwise, I’d be immersed – lost in the world between my eyes and the back of my head – and, before I know it, that meal hasn’t been cooked, the washing up is still sitting there, and I have no time to read. Which would really just defeat the entire purpose.

(Image via Pinterest)

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