We all know the dreaded feeling of being in our twenties and going to a holiday dinner. I half-expected school, or internships, or future plans, or boyfriends, most of which I would have loved to refrain from talking about, but to my absolute shock, those weren’t the main topic of conversation. Rather, the first three- last one didn’t come up, thank god– were second to my short hair.
Now, a solid half of these people I had never even met me before, therefore had never even seen my long hair, but sort of assumed that it had to be long once and that I cut it recently. But, isn’t that a bit of a strange topic for a first conversation with someone?I’m not talking about one or two soft inquiries, I’m talking about a hard-hitting series of questions from multiple people throughout the course of the night, like an interview or a questioning:
“When did you cut it? Why?”
“What made you decide to cut it?”
“Are you going to grow it out again?”
“But it looked so beautiful when it was long!”
“Okay, I’ve got to see it, show me a photo with long hair”
*everyone proceeds to gasp and pass my phone around*
How can so many people be interested in the details of me having short hair? I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I cut it because I wanted to cut it?” It isn’t that these questions bothered me or offended me or anything like that, I mean don’t get me wrong answering them over and over again was somewhat irritating, but I wasn’t set off or upset. However, while I wasn’t upset, it did remind me of how strong gender roles are in our society, and how a woman can’t cut her hair without having some sort of reason other than wanting to cut it. Does there need to be a reason for changing something about our appearance, or can people simply change something because they want to, without having an underlying reason?
I guess that even though at the time I didn’t, looking back I did have a reason, but even then, I had no obligation to tell other people what that reason was. People expected me to explain all of them in order to justify wanting a short haircut, which is still ridiculous. Despite having a reason now, in addition to wanting a change and never bothering to actually do my hair, it still isn’t a dinner conversation that one would have with near strangers. I’m not one to go into great detail about emotions or experiences, because there are only a few people that I know who actually understand and get it, and those people already know the reason for me cutting my hair off. But, for the rest of the world, I do not owe an explanation but would like to offer one, as a means to give a new perspective that others might not have experienced for themselves.
Someone told me that they could never cut off all of their hair because it was a part of them, it made up their identity, and now looking back, for me that was sort of the point.
I felt lost in this big world of ours, and for the longest time I wasn’t sure of who I was and who I wanted to be, but despite this I made it appear as though I did. I shared this persona with the world, one that was generic because I tried to be like everyone else, because this was easier than admitting there was something I felt was missing, a connection, a realization, something.
Well, it took over a thousand miles to find that something, but I found it. There are no words that could describe how much I changed and evolved during the first five months I spent in the city. Gone were expectations that I held previously, those five months were everything at once: amazing, chaotic, unexpected, spontaneous, full of disaster but also wonderful things and experiences, new discoveries and life lessons, nothing that I expected but everything that I ever wanted. Nothing about the dream and the life I pursued changed, but I changed, and that changed everything. There was still no other place for me than the city, that became apparent within days of me moving here, and I would rather live a short life here in this city than a long one anywhere else. Yes, I still wanted to be a writer, and I still wanted to do great things, and I know that someday, sooner than later, I will. But, with the help of a few amazing people, and the constant flow of inspiration that streams through this city, I found the self-identity that I craved for so long. I searched for it for so long, and it came to me when I moved out here, when I wasn’t even looking.
I wanted a blank slate. I wanted to start with a fresh canvas, and I wanted to be free of expectations that others had of me, based on who I was then. Rather, I wanted to be seen as who I became, who I was all along but didn’t even see. Sure, it was enough to know that I discovered who I was, but at the same time it wasn’t. I felt as though, to some degree, I needed a change of physical appearance that would match who I became mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t want to be associated with who I was before, because the fact of the matter is that who I was before wasn’t me at all, it was a girl who was lost and had no sense of self-identity, repressing and hiding anything and everything that made me who I was, so that I could fit the standard of what everyone else was trying to be. Once I had done a lot of soul-searching a self-reflection, pieced together answers to questions that I didn’t think I’d ever fully understand, I promised that I would never repress and hide who I was again, and I didn’t want to hide beneath a safe exterior that made me appear as though I was someone else.
I thought about it for almost a month, and without telling more than one or two people, I went to the hair salon and got almost all of my hair cut off
-and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
It was freeing, and it exactly what I needed. I felt empowered, and that I finally shed the dead weight that I felt obligated to drag around with me for the sake of others and their expectations.
I have never been the person to not do something because of what others might think of me, but I’m glad that I didn’t ask others their opinions before doing it, because this was something that I needed to do. Now, I feel lighter, and happier, and I feel as though it really suits me. Sure, there are other benefits to having short hair, but the biggest one for me is that I finally feel like myself, and people noticed. Within a week of me cutting it, friends told me that who I was on the outside finally matched who I was on the inside. I was being an authentic version of myself, rather than a carbon copy of everyone else. I’m comfortable and ecstatic with who I am and how I look, and I plan on having this short ‘do for a long, long time, it is the best version of me to date.
It might not always be easy to be who we are, but it is always worth it. We owe it to ourselves to be true to who we are, and have fun in life, and take risks, and follow our hearts, and do what we want to and what we feel we should rather than that of other people. Some people tell women who want to cut their hair short that they will soon regret it, and I’m sure that like anything else, some women do- but I don’t regret it for a minute. I finally feel free, and I am glad that I did and continue to do something based on what I want and like, not what others like and tell me would look better.
Plus, I don’t use as much hair product, and it takes about ten minutes to dry, which is pretty awesome.