I shaved my head last week.
Raised £1,000 for a cancer charity and was really pleased with the result. By result, I mean the money... not the look.
All hell has broken loose in my head. I'm seriously beginning to wonder if my hair might have had some tin foil qualities in keeping the ludicrous voices out. Maybe it's not that I'm an anxious wrecking ball of self doubt, maybe it's aliens sending messages down to me from space and my hair was the only thing keeping them away?
That is one of the more shareable thoughts I've had this week. It's been pretty exhausting.
I'm a vain person. I'm a very insecure person. This week I've been dealing with having my own image completely changed, of my own doing, and feeling a bit screwed up about it. Then, on top of that I've been feeling horrendous about mourning my hair when the reason it went was to help people who have probably also lost their hair but for a proper reason that they couldn't control. They didn't choose it. I did, because, I guess, I wanted to be a bit of hero. And now I don't like that the tiny thing I had to do has not gone away once the fanfare died down.
My head is full of voices of people looking at me thinking, "Put your hair back on your head and keep the money then you selfish witch. How have you managed to make my battle with cancer about you?"
My worst fear came true on Monday when a cancer patient on Twitter tweeted to me, "It's not good enough - you've deceived a cancer patient into thinking they'd see a bald woman" (because I didn't do a wet shave, I have a fuzzy once currently) and I think my heart might have actually squeezed itself out of my arse and ears with dismal shame. It transpired he was joking, thank Attenborough, and he said he'd received Macmillan support in the past and thought it a worthy cause. But I think it helped me realise that shame is exactly the right word for how I've felt. Deep, gross, shame at my own immaturity that I couldn't wear this symbol of support for someone without feeling totally chaotic in my own head.
The worst thing about Monday to Wednesday this week was waiting for that first gig on Thursday where I would step out in front of an audience and have a new first impression to deal with. I know my persona when I have my hair... I know how I look in my clothes, I know how I come across, I know when to twiddle my fringe in my fingers to occupy myself when I'm waiting for a punchline to land.
With my shaved head I feel like none of my clothes look the same. I feel like the fact I'm fat is more obvious. I think I look masculine and I'm not used to that. The grey hairs are not hidden anymore and that punches me right in the vanity. But worst of all, and something that is weirdly hard to admit in case it makes it even worse to say it out loud, I am absolutely fucking inside out cold guts feeling petrified that someone will think I've lost my hair because I had cancer myself, and will attribute some sort of bravery or sympathy that I in no way deserve.
I stepped out on Thursday and opened with my usual jokes and then addressed my hair as a secondary subject. The audience were mildly interested and then we carried on with the rest of my set as normal.
The woman in the middle of the front row with the brightly coloured head scarf wrapped all around her head laughed too and my terrified little self-obsessed heart started beating again.
I'm not sure stand-up comedy will ever stop rescuing me. Or maybe, it's the people in the audience being decent people and not like the shitboxes that are the subject of so many FB shares, that rescues me. Gives me faith. Stand up comedy might just be a conduit through which you can generally channel the best people in the world. People chasing the simple high of a laugh and a shared truth are my favourite.
I don't really know what the point of this post is. I certainly don't want sympathy or any kind of "there there, dear" and I hope it doesn't come across as a cry for any of that. It is not and I really don't want it. I just wanted to be honest about how a stupid little thing has pulled me apart a bit, because I don't think you're ever the first to feel weird stuff and the more people put it out there, the more someone else has a chance of finding it.