I finished a set of hack squats. I was feeling slightly out of breath but pretty good about my leg-pressing prowess.
A college guy walked up to me. “Excuse me sir”, he said. I was taken aback by the formality of his introduction. “When did I become a ‘sir’”, I silently thought to myself. Oh well, that would have to wait.
“Can I ask you a question?” he continued. I responded with an enthusiastic “Go for it!” Would his question be aimed at the specific workout plan I follow? Maybe he is interested to know how I maintain such a svelt physique at an advanced age. Perhaps he would like some pointers on a specific exercise. There were so many possibilities!
“How do you take care of your bald head?” he asked. I stared emotionless at him for what felt like 15 minutes. His question had genuinely surprised me. How do you respond to a question like that? Was he really serious? Should I call bears out of a nearby woods to attack him?
I guess he sensed the state of shock I was in. “I’m going bald too and I want to know what to do. I’m sorry if that is an awkward question.” His statement hit me like a bucket full of ice water to my face.
I tried to play it off nonchalantly, “Oh, no problem at all!” I said. “What do you want to know?” We spent 5 minutes talking about shaving techniques, shampoos and lotions. I realized I had picked up a lot of bald man wisdom over the course of 20 years of hairlessness. Afterward, he looked me in the eyes and said with all sincerity, “Thank you so much! I’m sorry again if that was a weird question.”
This time, I had a greater appreciation for what a courageous step he had taken. I smiled at him and responded. “Glad I could help. Welcome to the brotherhood of the bald man!” He grinned and walked away.
Our culture tends to elevate strength. We are constantly building our resume whether it is on paper or in our heads. Our value is directly tied to how productive we can be. We are only as good as our strengths.
There is only one problem. We all have weaknesses or parts of ourselves that we wish we could change. We tend to sweep that side of ourselves under the rug. We hide them so that no one else can see.
I have come to realize that people may admire my strengths but they identify with my weakness. There are enough people in the world unwilling to share their struggles. Maybe I can be a blessing in the lives of a few people by refusing to wear the toupee of performance. Instead, I choose to live in the freedom of honesty…bald head and all!