For as long as I can remember, I have had long hair. I can only recall one phase from when I was around the age of four when Matilda, Dora and I all shared a similar hairstyle: straight, dark brown, cut to the shoulders and finished off with eyebrow-length bangs.
What a look.
Since then, my hair has gone from long, longer to longest. When you've had long hair for the majority of your existence, people begin associating this feature with you; it becomes part of your identity, both internally and externally.
The reality is that we as humans tend to attach ourselves and our identity to physical entities, a.k.a security blankets or comfort objects.
I have found that there is great irony in this because the more we rely on a security blanket, the more insecure we often become. The problem with this increasing reliance is that once the entity ceases to be or is taken away from us, we are left to push through a minor (and sometimes major) identity crisis.
This attachment can be to a teddy bear, a special blanket, a scarf, a piece of jewelry, you name it. If you have something tangible in your life that you feel you would be insecure, incomplete or unrecognizable without and you fully depend on it to make you feel a certain way (hidden, comforted, protected, confident, etc..) chances are that it has become a security blanket.
These objects provide us with the psychological comfort that we innately desire. Throughout childhood, we naturally attach ourselves to the blankets, toys or stuffed animals that we were given as infants.
While I do believe it is important to have a source of comfort or security, and I absolutely acknowledge that there are certain circumstances where these objects are necessary and immeasurably helpful, being able to seek comfort from within is a transformative skill that can catapult us into an unexplored realm of self-reliance.
One of the first steps in detaching from these objects is recognizing that we can experience the same security and strength without the comfort objects as we once experienced with them. The power to feel this comfort is within and we were the ones providing that solace all along; the tangible items were just there to help us hone this skill.
Last month, a friend asked me if I would ever cut my hair. I immediately replied by saying oh no, my long hair makes me who I am. I wouldn't recognize myself without it. It's an extension of my personality!
I kept rationalizing that I ought to keep my hair long and wild while I'm young because one day when I have an established career, I'll need a professional-looking hairstyle that's more manageable and tame.
None of these thoughts have any validity but for whatever reason, I felt it necessary to try and negate the truth of the matter which was that my hair had become my comfort object. It had become something that I felt I could not identify without.
I would constantly think to myself that long, wavy, messy hair is what defines me.
Another red flag.
Eventually, enough red flags went up that I decided to throw up a white flag.
The flag of surrender: I cut my hair.
To some, this may seem like a non-event and in reality, that's exactly what it ended up being.
Six inches are now missing from my hair but to nobody's surprise, my personality and identity are still intact no less than what they were pre-haircut.
If anything, decreasing the length of my hair only increased what I felt I was capable of and gave me a newfound pep in my step.
Detaching from our attachments frees us.
We can't let our dependence on these security blankets cause us to feel more insecure when we find ourselves without them.
Understand that we are infinitely capable beings with or without the help of a comfort object.