Change, in my life, has not come easily or lightly. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like change and who have a dramatic reaction when change inevitably comes. I remember when I was in high school, my parents got a new refrigerator that opened from the opposite side than the previous one had, and it took my months to get over it. As I get older, I have an easier time dealing with change: no fits, less crying, just some inner turmoil that can be disguised. But in the changes that I’ve experienced in the past four years of college, I’ve realized that there’s one thing that I can easily and unemotionally change: my hair.
I’ve changed my hair a lot in the past couple of years, and it has always been at a time of transformation or transition. I guess I like the symbolism of meeting a metaphysical or emotional change with a physically-manifested change. It makes me feel less afraid of what may come.
In the beginning, I had very long hair.
This is what my hair looked like two years ago. It had survived multiple bleachings and an ill-fated attempt at dreadlocks, and though it was damaged like hell, I loved it because it was long. I was very attached, and I never wanted to cut it.
I cut my hair at the end of my sophomore year. It marked the halfway point of my college career, my first real break-up, and my first time leaving my family and the continent on my trip to South Africa. On a practical level, I wanted a lower-maintenance haircut for when I went abroad; but this haircut encompasses my taking the plunge, letting go of the familiar and the comfortable in favor of something new and strange. After I cut my hair, my life followed suit.
I cut my hair again on my 21st birthday. It marked my coming-of-age as an adult, getting over my break-up, overcoming an existential crisis and letting go of my fear of change. I had always wanted short short hair, but was too afraid that it wouldn’t look good or that it would never grow out. I made a conscious decision to cut my hair because I didn’t want to regret not doing it later, or wonder about what could have been for the rest of my life. So I did it, and it was the first haircut I got that didn’t make me cry; I even liked it.
I’ve let my hair grow out, but I changed my hair color to mark my college graduation. I loved my platinum hair, but it was time to move on; I have to enter the working world now, and I want to be taken seriously, which I don’t think my platinum hair would allow. It was really hard to let go of my super-blonde hair because it’s been that way for so long that it feels inextricably linked to my identity. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I need to have an extreme hair color anymore to make me unique. There’s more to me than my hair, and those are the things that make me stand out.