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What Going Bald Taught Me

God created a few perfect heads. He put hair on the rest of them!

-Unknown

Let me take you back 2 decades – tenth grade. I was content to have made some new friends in high school and had buried the fear of communicating in English. One day, at the lunch table, I noticed a few guys hovering over my head, trying hard to get a look at my scalp. I wrestled with curiosity and couldn’t wait to get home to see what made my oil glazed hair (combed like a two-way street) stick out. To my utter dismay, my hair had begun to thin. I was going bald. I knew someday nature would strike the dissonant chord of baldness (hereditary) but tenth grade was way too early for this truth to unfold.

You might wonder what the big deal is. In India (at least 20 years back), baldness wasn’t easily accepted as other parts of the world. There was a stigma attached to young men who were bald; elders believed that such men would have a hard time finding a life partner (considering a society that mostly believed in arranged marriages).

As a young boy, I shed a lot of tears and my parents intervened. They tried to console me and promised to find a solution. Desperate, I even tried a different hairdo to cover the bald spots on my scalp but it wasn’t the best remedy. My Dad took me to several dermatologists only to hear “like father like son”. The reality of going bald began to consume me and I began to develop an inferiority complex.

The spirit of acceptance engulfed my mind as I began to focus on more important aspects of life. My inferiority complex slowly vaporized and self-confidence took its place.

As years passed, I moved to different parts of the country and got used to the new me. There was no more staring at the mirror to convince myself that it’s the end of the road or seeking remedies that at best would empty my Dad’s wallet. The spirit of acceptance engulfed my mind as I began to focus on more important aspects of life. My inferiority complex slowly vaporized and self-confidence took its place. It wasn’t until years later that a friend of mine asked me to shave my head. It struck me like a lightning bolt as I had never thought of this option. Razor-on-scalp was too strong a move for me. I had to sleep over this idea for a few days and finally, mustered some courage and did it. Yes, I shaved my head! The only question that remained was “Why didn’t I do this any sooner?”

Suddenly, there was a fresh sense of freedom and I loved the newer me. To my surprise, a lot of my friends/family tagged me as the “cool dude” and some decided to pursue my “head-style” too.

As harsh as reality was, there were some valuable take-aways from this phase of life.

Imperfections can be a blessing in disguise – When reality reared its ugly head, my first question was “Why me and why so young?” As I experienced a little more of life, I realized that it isn’t all about the perfect, outward trims. It’s what on the inside that matters. Through my physical imperfection (at least in my society), I realized that my perspectives on life, love for people around, passion to spread cheer through my gifts, etc. were of more worth.

Imperfections help us appreciate people for who they are – I remember a conversation with a friend of mine who had a skin condition. He said, “Ranjith, it’s easier for people like us to accept others with physical challenges.” I believe an imperfection, however small or big, layers our vision with compassion. It helps us to see people for who they really are, beyond their physical challenges.

A Stronger you – On the other side of your physical imperfection, is a stronger you. A fully built, turbo version! Once we conquer our weaknesses and the fears that come along, we are better equipped to face life head-on.

Also, let’s not forget that there might be someone around who might appreciate a word of encouragement leading them to a more fulfilling life.

Do you have a story that has helped shape your perspectives? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Ranjith Abraham
Ranjith Abrahamhttps://milesapartmusic.com/
Ranjith Abraham is a pharmaceutical professional focussed on patient safety through accurate labeling. He is also the songwriter/piano player for Miles Apart, a global musical endeavor that enables friends around the globe to collaborate and create music virtually. He believes in storytelling and in the mantra that no matter how trivial our offerings are, we must allow the recipients to define their worth. Though challenging, Ranjith is grateful for the opportunity to parent his son and daughter. Born and raised in India, he now lives with his wife and kids in Philadelphia. Ranjith draws inspiration to write from life lessons that are tucked away in the insignificant happenings around him. His passion for music/photography fuels creativity and helps him genuinely connect with people. A firm believer of the equation ‘Leadership = Servanthood’, Ranjith’s vision is to positively influence people so they can impact their world through timely and meaningful contributions.

16 COMMENTS

  1. It’s so good to see you here, Ranjith! I’m smiling from ear-to-ear! I love this story. My dad was bald. My husband lost his hair early in our marriage. We tell my son that he’s lucky he was a c-section baby as he has a perfectly shaped head for when he loses his hair (he’s still in denial). I don’t think of baldness as an imperfection I just think of it as something unique. But I can imagine how vulnerable that must have felt in high school and the resilience it has taken to reframe it for yourself. Keep writing, friend! And start sharing some of your music here too! Dennis is a sucker for multi-talented people!

    • Kimberly, thank you for taking the time to read and comment! It’s hard to believe that this chapter that caused a lot of tears has now become an important part of my life. I share this story as often as I can in the hope that it will touch a life or two. You mentioned ‘music’ and I hear some rumblings!!

  2. What a delightful story. I was smiling all the way through. I probably won’t go bald, but I have twice nearly lost all my hair, so I know just a little bit of your outlook. I’m glad your parents didn’t mortgage the house to help your baldness, and that instead you learned to accept that bald is beautiful if the inside is beautiful to begin with. We had a pastor once in his sermon said, “God knows the number of hairs on your head. And he even knows where mine went.” He was at least 100% bald. :) I see your picture and can’t imagine how you would look with a full head of hair. You don’t need it.

    • Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! Love the quote from your pastor :). I hope to share another story wherein I went to collect my certificate from the college and because of my new head style, I was thought of as a pretender!

  3. My friend Ranjith! How cool to see you hanging out here now. I love your story, and the quote about God creating a few perfect heads is a line that my dad still uses today. I’m loving all of your story, especially about the empathy that it is created in you. I’ve seen that, you live it. Those who have limited imaginations seek to limit us with their judgment and surface reflections… we know that we are much more than that. Your reminder is a very good one. Thanks for sharing it! Again, so glad to see you on here!

  4. Ranjith — So good to see you on these pages!

    I am cut from some of the same cloth as Mac Bogart: “Does not work up to his potential.” One of the most damaging of well-intended phrases ever to be uttered. I did not hear “potential.” I just heard “Does not work.”

    As someone who is quickly heading toward the gleaming dome, I LOVED your story. Except for one word: “imperfection.” As your opening quote so beautifully states, who is to say that having hair is “perfection”? Maybe hair is just another mask over vulnerability. Having hair is just different. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your vulnerability.

  5. Thanks, Ranjith.

    I frequently found, on my report cards, “Does not work up to his potential.” Hmmm.

    In second grade, I made a clay animal and the teacher said, “That doesn’t look anything like a giraffe.” Hmmm.

    I’m an introvert and a stutterer and I make my living speaking to, and working with, groups of people. Hmmm.

    I’m starting a new project, “Character over Category.” The subtitle is “What I am is a coincidence. Who I am is a choice.” Any label other than ‘human’ expresses a bias, so feedback is about the giver, right?

    Finally, one of my favorite quotes from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

    Keep on keepin’ on, and thanks for the lift.

    Mac

  6. Ranjith – A story that teaches important lessons. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the BC360 family. May you find the engagement respectful and thoughtful. May you find encouragement for your writing from your fellow authors. And may you find new online friends who become a gift to you.

  7. Everything that happens on the body level affects our deeper sense of identity. Negative experiences related to our body size can lead to distortions in the way we perceive ourselves and perceive reality. The individual who has a negative body image of himself is constantly anxious, embarrassed, believes that his appearance reveals his personal inadequacy and the only way to improve this dissatisfaction is to change the appearance. The body, a means of expression and communication, is not the only component of the human being. Each organism is an integrated set of body, mind and spiritual consciousness. And the Latins were not wrong in saying: “Omne trinum est perfectum”, or “only a set of three elements is perfect”. Our valorization is a right and a duty, and this type of beauty is not synonymous with vanity, superficiality, but with health and well-being, love for yourself, self-acceptance, safety, self-esteem. But we should’nt just build the body, we must build our identity.

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