What I Wish I Knew About Identity When I Was Younger
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What I Wish I Knew About Identity When I Was Younger

Sometimes, I miss being able to protect you.

What I Wish I Knew About Identity When I Was Younger
Samantha Zamora

Dear Home,

I have seen you go through countless transformations. I have been here through thick and thin, through long and short, but what I have learned above all is that you have the power to define yourself. At first, this was a hard concept to grasp when just learning to form your identity.

Back in preschool, you encountered identity for the first time. I flowed to a magical length, but for family photos, I was cut to a short bob. At first, it felt fun and new but something still didn’t feel right. The next day at school, the kids didn’t recognize you with this simple change but hearing “You’re not Samantha. Samantha has long hair” over and over and over and over again fused your character with my appearance - making them inseparable.

In this early life stage, you had to figure out how to affirm your identity while rediscovering your friends. They didn’t know any better and neither did you. Once you were saved by your preschool teacher in shining armor, the rest of the kids reconnected with object permanence.

Just because you cut me off doesn’t mean you’re no longer yourself. We’re partners in crime ‘til the end of time. But the whole ordeal still gave you this unnerving fear of the salon and all scissors anywhere near me.

Fast forward eight years to sixth grade. I am once again long and flowing but the straight bangs never left! Somehow short hair in front was a-okay with you. This year, everyone was chopping their hair. Still shaken by the preschool incident, a haircut seemed ever-daunting but which weighed more? Fear of the salon or conformity? Well. Everyone was maturing with a shorter cut, so why not you too?

After seven years of demanding only a small, light trim, it’s time for a cut. Let’s start small: only about half length. Hair looks the same, nothing that different… but you exuded a sense of excitement. With less of me, you feel lighter yourself.

That week at school you naively asked classmates if they recognized you. Their puzzled looks were somehow comforting, especially when one girl exclaimed, “Of course I recognize you, I’ve known you since kindergarten, Samantha!” Still unsure if she knew my change, you asked, “You know I cut my hair, right? And it’s still me?” Again, she confirmed that you are, in fact, still you.

This bout of confidence took you right back to the salon the following weekend to have even less of me. I now only slightly graze your chin and can tell that you are smiling far brighter than you have in a long time

I continue to grow, and with my length, grows your confidence. You learned how to style me all on your own with tools and braids leading to all the girls asking for your skill now and again. I don’t define you anymore. Now, you define me.

I’m proud to see that you have taken control of your fear and of me. I do not dictate who you are. I am only an outlet for your expression. Whatever you command, I will gladly obey. You bring colors to my life, incredible forms, and amazing journeys.

You may not care for me as much as you did, but your growth is so much more important than my own. Some days, my grand length is bothersome. So, going through another transition in your life, it appears you no longer need me.

From preschool to college, we’ve gone through a lot together. You’ve chosen to keep me long, but now you want as little of me as possible. I’m overjoyed to see you graduate and to have gone through so many stages together. Sometimes, I miss being able to protect you, but seeing you stand on your own is the greatest gift - like a parent’s wish for their child.

Overall, you feel strong. Stronger than I could have ever made you. You - my body, my home, my foundation - are empowered. You have created your own identity through my character. You proudly conform me to your ideals, not yourself to the ideals of others.

It has become your choice to keep me short - a choice that originally was not your own. This decision was trivial initially, but it carved out a long journey that brought you higher than the tallest mountaintop.

I look forward to our future together for however long you choose.


Your Locks

P.S. Coincidentally, this post came up on my feed from SAARA - a Finnish Singer.

SPOILER ALERT: She shaves her head, and it looks thrilling; all while encompassing the message of this piece.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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