Am I my hair?

When you make a decision and it’s the right one, it seems like life starts again at that moment, like it’s silly that you’d ever lived with something else. This is something I never knew, or appreciated, for many years; I am not a great decision maker, and up until somewhat recently, I was *that* girl, whose response to “What are you in the mood to eat?” was a knee-jerk “Oh I’m fine with whatever,” or “I’ll go where the group goes!” I’m not sure what triggered the change in my decision-making prowess, but I’ve found in the past six months especially that I’ve been very confident in decisions I’ve made, big and small. That is, until this past weekend, when the haircut I’ve been looking forward to since August did NOT come out the way I wanted, and I’ve been second-guessing pretty much my entire life ever since.

Now I realize that hair is hair, and it grows back, and like let’s be real, this is currently the biggest headache in my life so obviously things are going pretty okay for me. But I can’t tell how I feel about this haircut. One minute I think it’s too short, and I have to resign myself to waiting for it to grow in a bit, and then the next minute I love that it’s so short, such a drastic contrast from my long blonde locks that served as a security blanket for over ten years. India.Arie has this amazing song, ‘I am not my hair,” a song of empowerment and understanding you’re so much more than how others define you. But somehow, I’ve found that my hair may not be necessarily what has “defined” me recently, but it has become an interesting point of focus for all the changes that I’ve made to become this person in the past two years.

As a species, we’re designed to adapt. Whether doing something as minor as getting a haircut, or as major as moving across the country, we’re not designed to stay fixed in one mindset, one spot, and never evolve or move forward. I resisted this adaptation for a really long time. Most of my teens and early twenties, in fact. I couldn’t handle big changes well, wracked by insecurities and anxieties, still deep in the throes of an eating disorder; I avoided inevitabilities like growing up and I clung to the things that made me feel safe, like the long blonde locks I’d been growing for years. Maybe the changes started when I moved in to my own place nine months prior to that first dye job, or maybe one month prior when I walked away from that bedroom for the last time. But there was something in the air when I looked and saw my no-longer-blonde hair in the mirror that made me feel excited, not scared, and the wheels of change started moving.

Last weekend I finally chopped off all my hair again, after growing it out for three months for Twinster’s wedding. It’s exactly what I wanted, but it is SHORT. Like, really short. And the shock of the short hair in the mirror completely threw me off my game, threw into question all of these changes I’ve been making the past two years, and for a brief moment I wanted my long blonde locks again, and I wanted it to be 2013 again. I took a deep breath to calm down my rapidly-beating heart at the panic of going to the office essentially bald (*not actually bald at all), and thought for a minute about what was really happening, what was really going on in my head that was making me second-guess all the changes I’ve embraced and wanted in the past few months and years.

Because the thing is, I am my hair. I am a drastic change from the person who wore those long blonde curls like a security blanket. I remember looking in the mirror the first time after I went red for the first time, and all I could think was “Oh, there I am.” And I remember looking in the mirror after I cut my hair this past spring and thinking “Oh, there I am.” Perhaps given the significance of this past weekend, I still had those long blonde curls in my head, and seeing a short red bob reminded me of how much I have embraced change in the last few years, a reminder that next year I’m making the biggest change of all. I am so much more than just my hair, but looking in the mirror as I’m still adjusting to the fact that for the first time I can’t put my hair in a ponytail, I’ll remember that who I am today, this person that I love today, started with a simple, impromptu trip to a hair salon on a cold December afternoon.

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