dreadlocks changing more than your hair
Haha...this is a BIG question, forgive my big answer...;~}
I've always prided myself on not needing anyone's permission to be myself. At the same time, I always felt this strange sense that my flat/straight hair said something frustratingly inaccurate about me, and it was the sense of this blatant miscommunication that sometimes stunted my sense of self-expression.
As far as the ways I've changed along the dreading process, I actually don't really feel like I have "dreads" at all. I just feel like me. Before I dreaded my hair, I felt off, but from the moment I began the dreading process 6+ months ago I felt like I was taking off some false stricture I'd had encasing me my entire life. What feels even more liberating, at this point, is that I'm just mostly letting them do their own radically wild thing despite the fact that some unexpected/close people have issues with that. It even feels empowering to be able to hear their criticisms and consciously recognize that they have a different relationship to beauty than I do.
There is no one form of beauty. A smooth, cylindrically formed, rope like dread is just as beautiful to me as a wild loopy frizzy clump of hair. It's good to be reminded that bigotry hides in unlikely places and open acceptance is available for exploration as soon as we're ready. I feel like I can give people something when I do not let their criticisms degrade the way I feel about my hair. It suggests an alternative perspective is possible---a confidence based beyond the dictates of a commercial imperative that demands commercially procured uniformity (even in "hippie" guise).
But on a broader level, beyond my sense of self-image, dreading has come at the same time as a number of other wonderfully liberating changes, so it's hard to say if one is the result of another. I think they're interconnected. Maybe I wouldn't have come to certain conclusions (such as dreading my hair) until I was ready to come to others (such as manifesting my personal life vision, beyond the mores of society). In other words, I find myself much in the same space as yourself. It is wonderfully exciting, no??
Thanks for asking such a thought provoking question. It would be kickass to to hear more about the ways these experiences are developing for you. Happy journeys friend!!