When I was about eight years old, I had long, flowing hair...that my mom made me tie up in a pony tail or braid every single day. Her reasoning was that it would get too tangled if I wore it down. She didn't understand why I wanted my hair to flow in the wind just like a Disney princess (and I didn't understand the tangles that would then ensue). We came to a compromise at the beginning of my second grade school year: I could wear my hair down, if I cut it short.
With excitement and princess hair in sight, I could not have prepared myself for what was to come. My new short hair revealed lots of texture and curls, previously hidden and weighed down by its length. Paired with a blunt, chin-length bob, my head had become a triangle. And I hated it.
Luckily, those were the days of sparkly butterfly clips and bobble elastics, so I found ways to make do with what I had, but I swore to myself my hair would never reach such lengths again.
And so it was for over a decade. My hair was always a dynamic thing for me, my hairdresser laughing each time I would come sit in her chair. I wanted layers, then bangs, then would grow it all out, then highlights and pink streaks, then brown, then red, and everything else under the sun...as long as my hair sat comfortably below my shoulders.
Yet last February, I was feeling restless. Empowered by my new knowledge of products and styling, I felt in enough control of my hair's texture. I felt trust in my stylist and I felt the undeniable pull towards the 'long bob' that haunted me each day on Pinterest.
I went for it.
I loved it.
My hair was instantly so easy to style (i.e. a pinch of Don't Blow It, some Surf Infusion and a tousle). It dried so quickly and on the days it wasn't behaving itself, I could still whip it back into a cute little mini pony or dutch braid that would still leave me feeling chic.
I sang the praises of the short cut to anyone who would listen, and a few months ago, sitting in the chair I felt emboldened once again...how cute would it be to go shorter?
So we went shorter. In the grand scheme of things, not much shorter than before, but as soon as the hairdresser styled my new short, long-bob in on-trend flat iron waves, I stared at myself and tried to stave off the panic: triangle.
Going shorter was MY choice and I told myself to live with it. I nodded along as people complimented my new 'do. I quickly found some styles that would disguise its shape, under the notion that I was simply experimenting and it wasn't a problem. And I pushed any negative feelings down and away.
But time crept on and each time I sought a new look, trying 'short hair styling techniques' from Youtube, I couldn't avoid the fact that curls went crazy, and natural texture looked poufy. And each time I tried to French braid, twist or tie it back, those too-short pieces would fall out (and not in a cool way). Hair dreams were so not achieved. I felt defeated.
I tried so hard to act like I was happy with my hair (and it's not like I could just take back all the short-hair praises I had sung just weeks before). But this week, for the first time, I admit to myself and out loud that I was unhappy with my hair. And then I decided, it simply didn't matter.
It's impossible to escape the fact that we tie our identities into our hair styles. They speak as much about us as our fashion choices. Are you cool and laid back like your natural beachy waves? Are you classic and chic like your long, straight locks? I have always considered myself creative and dynamic, and it showed in the fact that I would rarely settle for the same cut twice, even when totally happy with it.
Which is why now, after admitting my frustration and unhappiness with this too short, triangle 'do, I can accept it and move on. It's merely just a step in my hair (and style) journey.
Beyond the old adage "It grows back" (which, by the way, is true), it's also completely unproductive for me to feel sad, ugly or out of place with something I cannot change. I can keep experimenting, find success and failures, and if nothing else, fall back on my new pretty rosegold bobby pins as I did with my butterfly clips of yore.
After a less than ideal hair cut, we can wallow, cry and feel unhappy. But once we accept where we are, we can realize that our hair is not our whole. There's a reason our friends and family are quick to reassure us after admitting our unhappiness with our new style. They can see the beauty in us - beauty that goes far beyond our hair - that can be hard for us to see in ourselves.
I might look at my hair and see the eight year old "triangle head" I tried to leave behind, but those around me see ME (and more than likely they see the cool short-long-bob I was going for anyways).
So I arm myself with some Full Potential and count the days until my hair is long(er) again, but until then I'll be holding my head high and rockin' what I've got.