Let me preface this by assuring you that no, I have not had a psychotic breakdown in the past week; I didn’t pull a 2007 Britney Spears and I don’t foresee that being a good look for me in the future. I did take off 10 inches from a luxurious twenty-two-and-a-half inches length of hair (when fully stretched) and I couldn’t be any happier. To some, this may seem like nothing since hair eventually grows back and it wasn’t like it was my first haircut. To someone like myself who has developed an emotional attachment to something representative of a security blanket over the years…well, you can easily relate.
My haircuts have generally been a “trim the dead ends off” because anything more than a couple inches was unsettling for me. I may have added layers here and there, but I limited myself to the same angled side bangs and approximate length every time. Every time I would make a hair appointment, I would pester my friends and family about what they thought I should do instead of figuring out what I really wanted to do. Even with my mom’s voice telling me, “you’d look good with a paper bag over your head,” I still would chicken out every time I came close to thinking about chopping most of my hair off. Whether it was my nerves or a salon worker guilt tripping me with the reminder of how beautiful my long hair was, I would become so caught off guard that I would last minute reach for my safety blanket haircut.
This time felt different, though. For the first time, I picked up the phone with no hesitation, no phone anxiety; I sounded confident and firm when I made my appointment and when I walked in that day, I sat my butt in the chair and chatted with the shampoo girl who probably just wanted to go home. She was super sweet and even helped me embrace the natural social awkwardness that warrants itself between a shampoo girl just doing her job and the girl (with a terrible neck cramp) who doesn’t know where to stare. And what of my haircutter? She’s practically a miracle worker and besides being the only person I trust to cut my hair, she’s the sweetest, most patient individual in the world. I showed her the inspirational picture of Miss California USA 2016 winner Nadia Mejia and she got to work instantly, putting the copious 10 inches to the side for me to donate. By the time she was finished, I acknowledged I definitely couldn’t pass as Nadia Mejia, but I certainly felt as beautiful as her. It was weird being able to see my face for the first time and I confess I may have said to myself in that moment: dang girl, your cat eye is on point.
I will certainly miss my signature introduction-enhancing hair flip that would start my conversations and I will certainly miss my overflowing barrel curls I was able to reproduce on nights with no intentions of leaving my house. I’ll admit I’ll miss being able to hide behind my hair as a literal security blanket too, but it’s time to stop hiding (Is that why adults stereotypically have short hair? Guess It’s time to grow up). Even though I didn’t cut my hair to feel like an adult, I felt very empowered. Maybe not save-the-world empowered, but perhaps a small village if desperate times called for it. I must say I won’t miss trying to style or wash my long hair. I’ve shaved off minutes of blow drying and straightening that can now be used for sleeping longer before classes in the morning. I won’t even miss having to apologize for accidentally whipping people in the face with my pony-tail.
Now, I’m not writing about the time I cut my hair to educate my readers on how to take care of their hair by a simple shampoo and conditioner “rinse and repeat” method with the occasional haircut every 8-12 weeks. My ultimate message, however, is that it’s okay to be afraid of the unknown, but the weight of the world will (literally) fall off your shoulders when you stop trying to imagine what will make you happy and start making the attempts that have the potential to make you happy. I was afraid that I couldn’t “pull off” short hair and that I didn’t have the right face shape for my haircut. I was afraid that others might silently judge me because they weren’t used to seeing me this way and sometimes I even caught myself asking my crushes if they preferred short or long hair so I could keep my image for them. Let me reiterate: I was more concerned with the way I would be perceived than the way I was perceiving myself. I was so used to the positive feedback of my long hair that I had no desire to exit my comfort zone and the unintentional positive peer pressure only reinforced my decision to keep my long flowing hair. It wasn’t just the fear that prevented me from cutting my hair though. It was the idea that I wanted to start over. I wanted a renewal, a change, if you will, and all the times I chickened out from cutting my hair was another time I was afraid of change.
Once I let go of that fear of judgment though, I finally executed my intention of cutting my hair when I walked into the hair salon the other day and I had the best possible outcome I could have: I love the person I am even more because I don’t have a reason to hide who she is. The best part? My physical features have no shift on my personality but rather the length of my hair has now allowed me to radiate my personality even more. I no longer have to be the mystery girl behind the hair. The only mystery left is what’s next for my hair and me? That’s one secret I’ll never tell.