Last September I chopped off all of my hair and my entire life changed.
Although those two events are not mutually exclusive, the haircut does seem to symbolize something so much more than 12 inches.
It was just two days before the first play of Dallas’ theater season, a week before I interviewed Glenn Close and three months before I began applying for graduate school.
I remember the moment I decided to cut it. I had just moved into an apartment with my friend Jessica. And I was by our pool, my hair dangling down to my butt and I was refusing to get all the way in the water because I didn’t want to get it wet.
I was with a friend of mine, and I said –”I’ve always wanted to cut it all off. I’m sick of the way people treat me, because of my hair.” I’m pretty sure he thought I was ridiculous, but he said,” Oh my, yes it would be so cute!”
I jumped into the pool, got my hair wet and two weeks later, he took me to a salon for a birthday haircut.
For weeks, people would walk by me without recognizing me — good friends even did a double take. My father thought it was funny to pretend he didn’t see me. Most people thought it was ballsy, but a lot of people just thought I was dumb.
I’m not sure it really impacted my life to any measurable extent. But that haircut taught me a lot of valuable lessons. One of the most important ones is to never take comfortable circumstances for granted, which is merely to say it’s at the moments when you feel the most secure that you should plunge into something unknown.
I was surrounded by people who would love me regardless of what my hair looked like. I was living somewhere I would’ve found a job if graduate school hadn’t worked out.
When I was home in August, I was talking to a friend and he asked me why I cut my hair the year before. I answered him with a short version of the long hyper-feminist answer, “I thought if I cut my hair off, people would take me more seriously.”
And when I look back at this past year – people did.
But it had nothing to do with my hair.
Austin’s response to my reasoning was simple : “You know, Lauren,” he said. “Men still objectify women with short hair.”
He’s right, I suppose. And isn’t that sort of the way life is? While I was swelling with pride, thinking how brave I was and what a beautiful marker that haircut was on the path of my life — the simple truth is it didn’t really change anything.
And that’s all you can ask for in life, the willingness to let yourself change. To give yourself room to grow. To offer yourself forgiveness.
It’s so much more difficult than it sounds.
Now my hair is getting long and curly again, but I’m no longer afraid to get it wet.