Getting Chopped — A Hair Story

In the summer going into my senior year of high school, I had a friend from Chicago that really wanted to cut my hair. I was all for it in the moment. I was staying in Sicily with a host family, and some physical change seemed like a good marker of the change I had hoped to go through internally on this six week program. As if I had become a renewed person or something silly like that, and a new haircut or a nose piercing (which I searched for a place forever for on one of the last days and didn't find, much to my mom's happiness) would show that.

We agreed the next day he'd chop it off, give me a sort of bob kind of look. And then I woke up that morning recovering from the nightmare I had where I woke up within my dream and I had gone through with the cut and I hated it, feeling uncomfortable, and not me. I was terrified. So I didn't go through with it.

We made a deal that the next time I was in Chicago, he would give me a haircut.

I never felt inclined to go to Chicago because of it. Now he's living in New York, and I'm still not in Chicago, but now I felt like my long hair — about the same cut that I've had for fifteen years aside from some bang alterations — didn't feel like me anymore.

It's interesting and strange to me how something so seemingly unimportant becomes such a defining factor of your identity.

My hair is one of those things that I've relied on as a physical feature that brings me some comfort even when I don't feel good about other features that day. I didn't start messing with it until about two years ago when I had the sudden urge to dip-dye it in Kook-Aid. Although I felt really cool and a little rebellious for a moment doing something a middle schooler could do —look! I have red, blue, and purple colored tips in my hair! — it was kind of dreadful to make it come out and then the red especially got all over white furniture when it was wet.

Fast forward a couple months later from that and the temporary Kool-Aid dye was gone, and I'm in Missouri with Whitney, sitting in a salon chair getting a trim and real-deal highlighting it for the first time. Beforehand, dying my hair felt fake to me — like it was inauthentic to convince people that I was any other hair color than the one I naturally was, and that reflected an inner inauthenticity of myself — even though I don't think that way about other people dying their hair. In essence, I think I think way too much ;)  But all of a sudden it was fun and different. And I was ready for some changes. Being blonde again (I used to be a white-blonde when I was a toddler and over the years it just got more brown with some natural honey highlights) felt like me.

I think another factor for me has been to try not to let dying my hair or straightening it become a defining element of who I am, or a value of my worth. It's kind of weird that it would be, or that I'd even have to remind myself of that. But becoming comfortable with something and letting it be so part of you can have a great influence on how you see yourself. It's like when you put on make-up everyday, sometimes it's important to not put make-up on for a couple days just to not rely on it to make you feel better about yourself. Your beautiful as you are and vibes like that. My main objective though was to just have fun with it.

So about a year and a half ago, I was all hyped to cut my hair. But the problem there was I told too many people. And I told the wrong people. People who liked my long hair and it was such a defining element to them of my physical appearance that cutting it seemed like such a potential disaster. So I got discouraged and then realized I liked my long hair still.

About two months ago, I got the same urge to change it. My long hair just seemed more of a burden than anything else. I kept it up in a messy bun most of the time. It wasn't even a cute messy bun anymore. It was just a mess. I'd maybe do something with it once a week — more out of necessity than choice. Like, hey, you should really look more presentable today. I mean, it got to a point where putting on a skirt with a white top at work and having my hair down made my co-worker mad at me because she thought I wasn't telling her about some secret date I was going on. Nope, I was just actually trying that day.

I didn't tell anyone for awhile. I just started noticing other people who had shorter hair and kept envisioning myself with it. It just seemed so much more suitable. Maybe it's my upcoming quarter-life crises (you guys — I'll be 25 this December!) but the person I was looking at everyday seemed like an inaccurate reflection of who I was becoming. I could place myself in older photos from ten years ago and I looked pretty much the same.

I reflected on the nightmare I had previously experienced seven years ago, thinking I'd chicken out. But this time was different. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it.

I guess that was the big difference — I really wanted it. Nobody told me. It didn't seem like a big trend or something. Although, I guess it kind of is. But I just wanted to do it for myself.

So my friend Emily came over — she's amazing and dyes my hair too — and chopped it. I had warned her in advance that I may cry and I may hate it at first because I'm just not used to it. Even to my own surprise though, I was giddy and so excited. My mom came home in the meantime and saw what I was doing after Em had already chopped a portion off — I made sure not to tell her beforehand because I knew she was one of the pro-long hair people — and was really uncertain. After all was done though, she loved it too.

I loved it so much I didn't love it at all — it just felt like how it should be.

I will say that it was really nice having Emily here to blow-dry and style it for me. The above short hair photos were my own styling attemps. It can be a challenge having short hair to make it stay a certain way. Plus my hair is naturally wavy so that doesn't help. But it's different, it's new. And with other changes happening in my life right now (which you'll know about in due time), it feels so appropriate.

Was it as big of a deal to you to cut your hair or to change it up after getting comfortable with a certain look?