Pulse pounding in my ears, palms sweaty and I can’t catch my breath. I must be getting ready to run a Tough Mudder, right? WRONG!
I have made the decision to cut my hair.
I know, I know. This is FAR from earth shattering news however in my world this past weekend it was something that was paralyzing to me. The problem was that I couldn’t understand why my mind and body were reacting like this.
I had encountered this feeling before when I had shaved my head for Cancer Fundraising and again when I was going through hormonal struggles and suffering from shedding hair so had to go shorter. I had ignored my feelings before but now something inside of me needed to know why.
“Well, hello fear it is nice to see you. I feel you there but listen to me. I am NOT welcoming you into my life right now so get out and leave me alone to get the job done.” That is the internal conversation I had with my feelings of anxiety.
Then came the hard part of figuring out what was causing this overwhelming cascade of emotions. If I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be able to proceed with a change that I felt was so badly needed and so long overdue.
The first thing that came to me after taking a while to reflect was an issue that I had faced when much younger. My mother had always kept my hair shorter partially due to ease of care and partially, I think, because she didn’t know how to braid or style a little girl’s hair. Keeping my hair cut eliminated the chance of disappointing me, or at least that’s my theory.
As a result I can remember distinctly on at least one or two occasions older people spotting me and referring to me as “an adorable little boy”. I can recall vividly wanting to get up on a chair and yell at them “I AM A GIRL!!!” but being the polite child I was I bit my tongue and let my mother quietly correct them.
Although I was too young at the age of 5 or 6 to make the connection I strongly believe that those experiences were what planted the seed of association between femininity and long hair. If I didn’t have long hair, would I still look soft? Would I still look pretty? Would I still look feminine?
As I continued to dig deeper with this I was actually quite taken aback at how shallow some of my reasoning seemed to be.
For instance, I let myself recognize for a brief moment that I was truly worried about what a future potential partner would think if I didn’t have long hair. Me!! The person who preaches self-love and acceptance was allowing someone else to determine her desires and happiness. Needless to say I was disappointed with myself and quickly gave myself a mental kick in the butt and loudly proclaimed that it is my hair and therefore the only opinion that matters is my own.
If someone comes along who chooses to love me they are going to do so for long hair, short hair or no hair because hair truly does not matter. They will love me because of the light inside of me and what I bring to the table in a relationship.
The final reason for my panic was on a much darker and harder to accept level.
When I was sexually abused as a little girl it triggered something inside of me that related the weight that I carried, the fat on my body as being protection. I wore it like a security blanket. What I realized was that my hair had served the same purpose with my physical body. The “logic” was that my long hair sheltered me from the insults, the doubts and the discomfort. There was a time where I didn’t like much about my body…but I loved having long hair.
As I sat there acknowledging all of this and then letting it go I felt this wave of confidence and acceptance roll over me. Before I realized it I was in a chair at a small local salon with a pair of scissors poised and ready to cut away the invisible emotional chains that I had worn for so long without knowing it.
What ensued was an amazing talk with the woman who would help to transform me about positivity, awareness and change. There was laughter, there were smiles and at the end a puddle of hair on the ground. I was not only happy with my choice, I was freed by it.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I wish for you the confidence to make the changes that you want to regardless of anyone else’s opinions. I wish for you the ability to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new even if it scares you. Most of all if you are going through your own hair-raising experience my wish is that you find someone as incredible as I did to help you get through it.