Exactly one month ago, I found a bald spot on my head.
Well actually, my mom did.
She made her fourth lap around the dining table, subtly leaning over my head as she got close. By this point, I found the repetition to be quite odd and thought that perhaps this was a good time to ask her exactly what she was doing.
She suddenly became uncomfortable, mindlessly stammering various iterations of “ahs” and “umms.” It wasn’t until a few seconds later that she finally was able to coherently formulate the words, “Uhhh Molisha, you have a bald spot on your head.”
My natural response to this completely absurd comment was to burst out laughing.
“What on earth are you talking about?” I immediately replied.
It was only when I looked in the mirror that I witnessed the miniature crater that had formed right in the middle of my head. There it was — this perfect shiny circle, glistening in the light. Yet despite the realization that I, a perfectly healthy 18-year-old, had a bald spot, the only thing I could formulate was, “Damn this bald spot is popping in this light.”
Several weeks passed and my bald spot did not disappear, prompting my mom to worry. At this point, I was still mastering my exquisite concoction of jokes like, “Hey look, my bald spot is brighter than my future” or, “I have a hole in my head.” As you can probably tell, my growing loss of hair did not bother me. However, it was only when I was sitting in the doctor’s office being diagnosed with a stress-induced autoimmune disorder that I suddenly realized how much is wrong in my “seemingly healthy” 18-year-old body. More broadly, I realized how much is wrong in far too many people’s lives.
Stress has become such a normal part of our everyday lives that we have completely lost the ability to recognize it, or even fully comprehend it. As college students, we have a tendency to glamorize and romanticize stress. Not to mention, it has become a necessity that holds our lives in balance. Many of us feel like if we’re not stressed or worried, there’s something wrong.
The fact that it took me becoming partially bald to realize this shows the extent to which stress is normalized and psychologically justified. In the rare instances when we are confronted by it, we often dismiss it as a joke or embrace it as a part of our identity. But through this experience, I cannot emphasize enough that stress is not the new trend, nor should it ever be. We have to stop joking about it because it affects each and every one of us in terrible ways. This is why I urge you to be easy on yourself. Throughout your entire life, your body is one of the few things that truly belongs to you. Please take care of it because if you don’t, nobody else will.