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Not long ago, you resolved to drop the flat-iron, quit the chemicals, and embrace your natural curls. It was a choice informed by diligent research. It’s inspiring to know that bouncy, healthy coils are in your future! But it’s not going to be easy. The hurdles ahead will test your confidence. It’s normal to feel empowered and free at the start of your curly journey. It’s also OK to weep in frustration as you stare longingly at the business end of a round brush. Here’s some inspiration to keep you on track.

Trust the process

By now, you’ve settled on a care method, and purchased a small stockpile of sulfate-free products. You know the steps required to achieve healthy, natural curls. But results won’t come instantly—especially if you’re dealing with significant damage. You might worry that you’ve chosen the wrong products or techniques for your hair. Hang in there! Don’t switch things up until you’ve given the method a solid trial. Allow time for your hair to relax into its natural state—and expect a learning curve as you work to develop consistency with your new routine. If you find that damage is irreparable, take a deep breath and read our advice about the big chop, or how to avoid it.

Find your tribe

You’ll need understanding on this journey, and NaturallyCurly is the place to start! Find other women who’ve made the transition. Start with an introductory post on CurlTalk. Swap stories. Ask for encouragement. Many of our hair challenges are universal, and it helps to know that others have lived your struggles and overcome them. You’ll discover it’s easy and fun to make new curlfriends. Soon, you’ll be stopping women at the grocery store to ask about their favorite products.

Positive Vibes Only

Big changes can make you feel especially vulnerable to criticism. Let your loved ones know that you won’t allow any negative comments about your hair. Give yourself (and your gorgeous tresses) plenty of space from anyone who can’t respect the journey.

Make an inspiration board

Collect images of curly styles that make you feel proud, powerful, and stunning. Check out Style Nook to find images of gorgeous natural hair that looks like yours. Build a Pinterest board, or print a collage that you can tape to the bathroom mirror. Allow these images to remind you that the journey is worthwhile, even on difficult days.

Embrace your place in the legacy

Curls are in your DNA. They’ve arrived at this moment in history through a thousand complex stories of love and family. When I’m feeling insecure, I imagine my curls traveling backward through time on the crowns of my foremothers: I see a gritty, Sicilian matriarch at Ellis Island, loosening a scarf from her windblown locks. I zoom back to the sensual waves and spirals of Italian renaissance paintings, and further still to idyllic coils etched in Roman sculpture. My hair is a story of my people. When you’re unsure about your curls, spend time with the art and history of your culture. See yourself in the women who came before you, and let their enduring legacy wash over you. Never forget: You are rooted in beauty!

Transitioning is hard. How do you cope when you’re struggling with your hair? Share with us in the comments below!