April 8, 2013

I Cut off all my Hair: Confessions of a Change Junkie.

I cut off all my hair this weekend.

(Sorry to my family members and close friends who are learning this via my elephant article.)

I’ve been everything from redheaded to honey blond, to platinum blond and dark brown, and nearly every length from pretty darn short to well-below shoulders long, and in a few others in between.

Recently, however, I found myself feeling stagnant in my energy, in my life—and in my hair. So I cut it—all of it.

Alright, I still have some hair left. It’s at least a few inches above my chin and deeply angled from boy-short in the back to spiky pieces in the front. I wore this style, although blond, for many years awhile back.

My hair isn’t really my point though. Actually, what made me connect my hair chopping with my change-junkie reality was my daughter’s reaction—or lack of reaction.

My two-and-a-half year old has already seen me go from white platinum blond to deeply rich brunette. She’s seen her daddy chop off a few inches in the kitchen when I was too impatient to get into my stylist. (For the record, my husband also cut it this time too.) My daughter was curious about my hair lopping experience, but she was more nonchalant with her “eh, it’s my mom doing something extreme with her hair again” attitude that made me ponder my true inner nature.

Another thing for the record is that I also consider myself to be an in-it-for-the-long-haul, permanent sort of gal. I’m 33 and I’ve been with my husband for over half of my life (nearly 20 years). I have a close-knit family and a handful of friends who have seen me grow throughout childhood and beyond. I’m wearing pathetically new eight-year-old jeans as I type and drinking the same, exact white wine I prefer regardless of what else I try.

Additionally, I eat the same things for breakfast and, often, for lunch for days and weeks in a row before I change it up and something else becomes my new pattern and norm. In short, I might be a change junkie, but I’m not shy of long-term commitments—in fact, I prefer them.

Then why did I chop off my hair and have that familiar, incessant itch to move on to something new; and not just now, but preferably yesterday, because yesterday couldn’t have been soon enough?

I think it’s because I can control this change, and that actually makes it less impulsive or grandiose than it seems. I think we all tend to have changes that are beyond our control, so we create unnecessary changes in order to compensate. Let me explain.

A dear friend told me last year, as I prepared for yet another big move, that she finds it funny that people constantly crave change yet don’t know what to do with themselves when they get it. I’ve contemplated this a lot over these past several months, and she couldn’t be more right.

Life brings continual fluctuation. Living in the same house for 30 plus years and driving the same car for a decade and listening to the same songs since you were a teenager doesn’t stop the world from spinning on its axis—or around you.

Quite frankly, practicing these forms of resistance actually shows more than anything that you recognize the importance—and the necessity—of these changes.

Yet change doesn’t have to be scary—and it doesn’t have to be self-driven or falsely contrived (like my extreme haircut).

Rather, realizing that when we allow ourselves to shift out of our mental ruts, and our subsequent physical dependencies, that we are actually giving ourselves power, we become free of self-imposed limitations—or at least we begin to admit that we’re limited in the first place.

I cut off all my hair—and it felt like I was letting go of my spiritual clutter. In essence, I was spring cleaning. Still, my toxic garbage exists—and permeates and stagnates—if I don’t keep my desire for obsessive control in check.

I tend to want to control myself, my husband, and my life in unhealthy ways. I know that this internal drive to be in control makes me also spin out of control and, ultimately, self-perpetuates this lust for reoccurring change. Yet I don’t think that either quality has to be bad, or even truly kept in line, as long as I realize where these needs stem from.

Why do I want to control my world and myself? Why do I crave and also shun change? Partly, I think it’s simple human nature to be creatures of habit who like our ducks to show up in a row, but I also believe that it’s connected with my own lack of faith.

My personal faith has suffered heavy blows these last couple years, to the point that I know I believe strongly in a spiritual reality, but I don’t necessarily believe that this divine presence has my best interests at heart. I don’t, right now, feel that I can confidently say that everything works out in the end, or that everything happens for a reason, or any other pretty cliche—and I think my lack of faith makes my own spirit hungry for order and needy for self-control.

As a culture, we seemingly are having a perpetual crisis of faith, and its my thinking that this must affect our energy and lives in a multitude of ways—only one of which is our throw-away, always-moving-forward-to-the-next-best-thing societal mentality.

While I don’t have all the answers, I do have plenty of questions to offer up—and this most recent hairy ordeal of mine encouraged me to re-think why I love to regularly change up my hair.

What I’ve come to, for the time being at least, is this:

1. I will most likely always want to drastically switch up my hairstyle because dependence on a personal connection to something as arbitrary as my hair scares me.

2. I am absolutely afraid of change, and so I, ironically, create it.

3. My faith and spirituality are works in progress.

4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with numbers 1, 2 or 3.

My latest self-discovery has been surprising; surprising because I’ve decided that it’s high time to accept my quirks and “flaws” so that I don’t become defined by them. I’m bigger (and smaller too) than my eccentricities.

I am not my hair—and I am not my fears.

I am, however, a strong, sassy (sometimes snarky) woman who likes to drink precisely two cups of perfectly made coffee in the morning with a side of (probably annoying to most—definitely to my husband) constant self-study. I like my eggs boiled, my non-antibiotic, grass-fed steaks medium-rare and my wine white (I think I mentioned this). Currently, I like my hair short and dark—but I’ll absolutely let you know if that changes next month.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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