A funny thing happened on my way to growing my hair out. About halfway through, I realized I was already where I wanted to be.
As a recap, waaaaaaaaaaay back in February, against the advice of my hair stylist, I decided to cut my hair super-short in an effort to look more sophisticated and European. About 12 hours after the chop, I badly regretted my decision, a regret that deepened when I was called “sir” during a purchase of a panini in Detroit’s airport.
Operation Grow Hard began in full force.
The plan was to primarily stay in the house for the next 10 months until my hair could grow its way back into a short bob. I figured the plan was fairly secure, since:
- I don’t have to go to the bank anymore as my bank has a check-depositing app (praise!).
- I wouldn’t need to get gas because I wouldn’t be driving anywhere.
- We have an Amazon Prime membership and can’t you, theoretically, get everything delivered by Amazon?
Alas, about a week later, reality set in. The dogs needed to go to the vet. We had a pile of dry-cleaning. And, if I didn’t want us to get scurvy, I was going to have to go to the grocery and buy some citrus.
I dealt with this period of my life by being as upfront with people about my hair gaff as I could, conversations that began with, “Just so you know, I know my hair is a problem. It’s important for me to know that you know that I recognize this.”
People, of course, had no idea how to respond to these statements, since either they:
- Really didn’t care what my hair looked like, as they were just trying to get through their day, which consisted of matters far less superficial than mine.
- Felt compelled to say, “No, it looks good, I was just about to tell you that,” a lie that made everyone uncomfortable.
Eventually, I went mum on the subject, avoiding mirrors when possible.
And then, something suddenly happened. Even though I was inches away from my intended bob, around June 4, I had a good hair day. Somehow, the way it curled just worked, the length seemed fine, and, from what I could tell, I still looked female.
I absorbed this information, nodded, and went on. Then, the next day, it looked fine again. And it did on the day after that too.
I flew home to visit my family and discovered that my mom and I, for the first time ever, had nearly the identical hairdo. After 72 years of bemoaning her thick, curly hair, which she’d almost always kept pixie-short to control, she’d embraced it and was wearing it longer than she had for decades. After 42 years of bemoaning my thin, curly locks, I decided to embrace keeping them shortish.
Obviously, the meaning of life is surely made of far more substantial blocks than this little crumb that came from a hairdo. But I have to admit, it’s kept me kind of floored.
First, I never in a million years expected to find resolution by accident. I thought that could only be attained by waiting and working and suffering until you finally reached point B from your beginning at point A. That resolution might be lying somewhere in the middle there, that it might have been all along, blows my mind a little.
Second, I never realized what a relief accepting something so small can be.
I will never, alas, have long, flowing hair that so many Southern women have: the kind that flings over a shoulder like a curtain, the kind that is as thick as a fist in a ponytail.
I will also never have the high cheek-boned, strong jaw-lined look that supports the severe European hairstyles that I so admire.
But I’ve realized that’s OK. Because what I do have looks like me: unadorned and, what a relief, unaspiring.
Of course, it’s just a hairdo, but if you look for it, there can be a shocking amount of peace in unexpected places.
The last time I went to see my hairdresser Kathy, she was running a touch late, so I quickly ran to the grocery in the meantime. When I returned, Kathy told me that the woman she’d just finished styling sighed as I left and said, “I wish I could get the back of my hair to curl like hers.”
Trust me when I tell you that I have never in my life received a compliment about my hair. Maybe what people really notice is your acceptance and the confidence that comes with it.