I used to have long hair.
All throughout my childhood, my policy on hair was pretty much to grow it out until it was long enough to donate and then chop it off and start over. Straight hair, blunt bangs, pretty simple.
In seventh grade, I decided I wanted to spice things up a bit, so I got ~layers~. In reality, it was two layers. The top one, I curled under. The bottom one, I curled out. Kept the blunt bangs though. I really thought I looked cool with that haircut, but I did not. Fortunately, I decided I missed long hair and grew it back out again.
From then through my high school graduation, I had long, relatively simple hair. I still kept the bangs, they were something of a staple, but I started swooping them to the side. For the most part though, the goal was simply to have long hair. Easy peasy. Mission accomplished.
Shortly before graduation, I decided I wanted to cut my hair. I thought it would be fun to try out something short again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get that seventh grade haircut out of my mind because it greeted me every time I passed the photo collage on the way to the basement of my house. I wanted to try something new but I was not about to go back to that harrowing fashion disaster. My other reason for sticking with long hair was that I did not want the unfortunate mistake of looking completely different at graduation than I did in my senior photos. Incredibly important stuff I was thinking about, I know.
Shortly after graduation, I screwed up my courage and cut my hair all the way up to my collar bone. For me, this was drastic. We’re talking couldn’t-stop-staring-at-myself-because-I-looked-so-different drastic. And I loved it. I felt lighter, bolder. Phase one of drastic hair change was a complete success.
On to phase two: lose the fringe. Let me tell you something, from the first time my mother could style my hair until I was eighteen years old, I had bangs. Those things were just a fact of life for me. My mother had curled them straight out of the ’80s every Sunday for church when I was little, I had constantly pushed them out of my eyes for years, they came in really handy when I got older to hide the acne on my forehead. The bangs were my safety blanket. And I was ready to let them go.
Flash forward to freshman year of college: my hair was getting long again and I was growing into my skin in so many ways, so I thought I’d try this whole chopping thing again. I cut my hair to just above my shoulders for the first time since probably about the fourth grade. For starters, my neck was cold all the time. (I suppose that’s what I get for cutting my hair off in January.) But once I acclimated to the temperature change, I was pretty happy with the hair I could barely scrape into a ponytail. It felt good, it looked good, and it was something I could enjoy messing around with a little bit.
Our next hair transformation came at the very end of my freshman year of college. We had just finished Bye Bye Birdie, which required me to destroy my hair on a daily basis for two weeks and it was not handling the casualties well. That also marked the first time I had a hard conversation with a member of the menfolk in which I came out a little brokenhearted. So the next day, I barged into my friend’s room, asked if she would come with me, and chopped my hair off to my chin.
(A word of advice: Impulse haircuts are usually not a good thing.)
However, I got lucky because this one turned out pretty dang good. It was something so different for me, but it suited me well and pushed me just enough outside of my comfort zone to see I could handle it pretty well out there. It was just hair, but it felt like some sort of tangible character development.
I cut it a few more times over the span of the next year and a half or so. Almost every time, I would try to convince myself I wanted to grow it back out but eventually decide I like it short. It has been through a series of styled bob cuts, usually getting progressively shorter and more adventurous. Each time, I walked out of whichever cheap salon I had chosen for the day, I felt like a garden that had been pruned and cleared up again.
That is, until the most recent cut. Friends, I regret to inform you that I went too far out on a limb and found myself with a bad haircut. I watched in the mirror as the hair fell away from my face and my eyes sank into regret. It all happened at the salon, folks. I knew even before the stylist finished cutting it that this was the moment all of my flippant experimentation would come back and bite me in the butt. It was a really terrible haircut. I looked like I had a bowl cut and it grew out. I was in a state of panicky tearfulness when I arrived back at my dorm and frantically asked my roommate what on earth I was supposed to do now. I couldn’t stick the rest of my hair back on, obviously, but neither did I trust going shorter that the style that was already freaking me out for how short it was. I couldn’t undo it.
That thought made me queasy right away, but it’s been a couple of weeks and with washing and styling, I don’t mind it much anymore. I’m going to go somewhere different in a few weeks to get a little bit of the style I wanted back, but for now it is what it is.
The point of that coiffure memoir is this: It’s just hair.
Sure, it’s embarrassing up the wazoo to have gross hair, but it doesn’t really affect anything beyond that. My life went on as it has and that was that, just as it always has. No matter how I walk out of a salon, I don’t change as a person or anything. I may look a little different for a bit, but so what? Hair grows back, life goes on. The details are of no consequence when it comes to the richness of life set before you, so go and get it, bad hair and all.