Art by Markha Y
My mom has always told me that long hair is pretty. The first boy I ever kissed even told me he loved my long hair. My hair was the thing that told me I was normal, I blended in, I was cool. It got to the point that I would sleep in uncomfortable positions, so as to not ruin it. My hair was my curtain. It could either protect me from whatever was on the other side, or put me in center spotlight, right where I wanted to be. Maybe that’s why I chopped it off.
When I would walk down the street, in a hallway, up the stairs, even sitting in my seat in class, I felt as if I had millions of beady eyes squinting down upon me. It’s maddening to feel as though you are being watched like that. I would walk a little stronger, straighten my shoulders, tilt my head up. You know, just in case. I would suck in my stomach a bit more, I would run my hand through my hair, I would go to the bathroom to check on my makeup. Did I have mascara under my eyes? Was my shirt making my stomach bulge? I would be sitting on the table of the waxing place from hell questioning as to why I felt it was necessary to rip out chunks of my hair, but of course I still went through with it. And I was angry. For God’s sake, I thought the woman had taken a few pieces of skin with her.
After a few months, I couldn’t do it anymore. I said to hell with it, to hell with the makeup that didn’t make me feel pretty but it made others think so, to hell with the hair that gave me a false sense of togetherness, to hell with it all! So I cut it off. And for the first time in my life, I felt ugly. Everything I’ve ever known to be “pretty” was gone. I gained hips, my hair was up to my shoulders, and my clothes seemed like they belonged to another. I know, not what you would expect, but that’s what happened.
I went through what I’d like to call a Mid-Mid-Life Crisis. I had no idea who I was and I didn’t even know how to act anymore. I had no personality. The funny little quirks that made me who I was vanished. I was a dusty motel with a large “Vacant” sign burning red. There’s a term in Psychology, called moratorium. It’s when you haven’t yet discovered your identity, but you try out a lot of things, you sort of explore who you are. I guess that’s what I was in. And if I’m being honest, it took me a long time to get out of it. It wasn’t some grand moment of clarity; it was a slow and painful process. I gradually got to know myself in my lost times. I found out what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I was feeling more like a new person. I am still getting used to this new person. Whoever they might be, I hope they will make for good company.
I am not yet where I want to be. I still have some things to figure out, some kinks to fix. But the beauty of it is that I am fixing me for myself. I am going through this treacherous journey for myself. Not for the boy who kissed me, not for the people in my school, not for the beady eyes, not even for my mother. For me, and only me. That is the way it should be.