To put my childhood into perspective, I once walked into a public women’s restroom at 10 years old and was asked, “Do you know that this isn’t the boys’ bathroom?” Don’t overthink it now, you probably guessed right. I had been mistaken for a boy, and, to be completely honest, I don’t blame her. I had extremely short hair, glasses, braces, and was an avid wearer of camouflage pants and basketball shorts. If that isn’t enough, there was nothing more I loved than to run around playing sports with the guys and getting into all kinds of muddy, outdoor adventures. Back in the bathroom, that random woman’s confusion made total sense.
For this very reason, I grew my hair out as long as I possibly could once I retreated from my hardcore tomboy phase. I was trying to escape my embarrassing childhood. Any inkling of having short hair immediately brought flashbacks of painfully awkward phases and bullying, memories that weren’t held too fondly. From freshman year of high school to freshman year of college, my hair grew longer and longer until it resembled something of a lion’s mane. It gave me a barrier I could hide behind, a safety net.
Then, the summer after freshman year, something changed. To this day I still can’t name exactly what I felt, but it was a mixture of confidence, courage, hope and maybe a little bit of fear, but what all of these feelings brought on was the desire for change. There was a little spark in the back of my mind that thought, hey, you can do this! Now, it may sound a little dramatic considering that I’m just talking about hair, but at this time I thought that my hair was not only a form of protection from the past but also a crucial part of my identity. Who would I be if I didn’t have my mane? It was one of the key features that people knew me for.
So I dragged myself to the hairdresser, a good friend just up the road from where I live. She sensed that I was nervous and reassured me with an overwhelming amount of positive energy. Piece by piece my mane fell to the floor, and it didn’t hurt. I wasn’t losing a thumb or toe or arm. All of my vital organs were still in place. It was just hair. Slowly the masterpiece was coming together, and it felt like I had lightened up by five pounds with it. My fear melted away just like the hair around me, and when I was spun towards the mirror for the final reveal, there was no little boy waiting for me on the other side. In fact, I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me. She looked strong and confident, she needed no hair to hide behind, no past to run from.
And that’s when I realized, it’s just hair. For a long time, I used my hair as a protective curtain to hide behind, a way to feel just a little more secure, a little more comfortable with myself. When I cut it all off, I realized the only thing that was truly important was who I was on the inside. My hair is merely a different way to express myself, an outlet if you will. On top of that, I realized that even if I could do my childhood over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. As embarrassing as it can be, my tomboy phase is an integral part of my life because it shaped me into who I am today. I’m proud that even at a young age, I wasn’t afraid to express myself, and that’s the most important thing.
The big lesson from my haircut was that it really is just hair. It grows back, and it certainly doesn’t have the power to define me. In fact, from my very first haircut I have progressively chopped it shorter and shorter because honestly, it’s a little addictive. After this experience, I fully advocate that every woman should have short hair at least once in her life. My short hair makes me feel confident and fearless, not to mention it’s super easy to take care of. What’s a little risk? A new look? A new perspective? And if you really hate it, I promise it will grow back. It’s just hair. So, to make long story short, if you’re ever looking to spice your life up, grab some scissors and start snipping.
Flowers always find a way to brighten up a gloomy day!
Here’s a glimpse at some of the work I do for HerCampus, a website for female collegiate across the country.