Three or four years ago, I started threatening my husband that I was going to cut my hair off super short and dye it blonde. I casually threatened and joked because I knew I wasn’t brave or bold enough to cut it all off. I casually threatened and joked because I knew my husband strongly prefers me and his girls to have long hair. That is, until one year ago when my husband shaved his head. He began to understand where I was coming from, and granted me complete freedom to go ahead and cut and color my hair however I wanted.
Okay. I know you’re going to roll your eyes, puke in your mouth a bit (if you’re my husband), or maybe even wonder “What in the WORLD is Amy thinking? Has she gone mad?” But think Miley Cyrus. Yes, this is the haircut I envisioned in my mind all those years. No need to go into details, but you know this cut has an even edgier styling option, right?
Why am I talking about haircuts and sharing photos of celebrities today, anyway? Because this seemingly random story about hair has a real-life application. There’s a bigger lesson to be learned here, and I didn’t realize it until I cut my hair.
So let’s go back in time a bit. I promise, this won’t take long.
I’m super low maintenance when it comes to my hair. When I say SUPER low maintenance, I mean it. I get my haircut twice a year AT MOST. I don’t make appointments ahead of time. I pretty much get to the point of emergency and take an appointment wherever I can get in. Hence, the longest amount of time I’ve stayed with one stylist in my adult life is maybe a year or two. I’ve only highlighted my hair a couple times, and have never had a full color job. Garnier Fructis is my shampoo of choice ($3 or less with coupon). Typically, I have ONE high-end smoothing product to help manage my frizzy hair, and that lasts me for several years because I use it so sparingly. Five minutes is the perfect amount of time for styling; anything beyond that is annoying and crosses into high maintenance. And anyone who knows me in real life knows that I love, love, LOVE ponytails. Ponytails are the best, especially when you’ve had the lovely experience of lice through your house twice in one year. Yeah, ever since that, I’ve worn the ponytail 5-6 days a week.
I’d last gotten a haircut in early September 2015. I wore my hair in a bun while I was in Kenya, and kept the spirit of Kenya alive by wearing my hair in a bun EVERY SINGLE DAY from November 26, 2015 through April 26, 2016 when I finally got my haircut. That’s five months, people! I thought the bun was totally working until my former neighbor’s mom saw me in the store and said she barely recognized me because my hair was “so slicked back.” (I wasn’t sure her words were meant as a compliment. I, for one, loved the bun, but knew it was another trap.)
Time to get that haircut.
I’d been thinking and talking about that short haircut for SO long, that I knew this haircut was going to be TOTALLY SHORT or SAFE AND BORING (think ponytail).
Research phase began.
Maybe I should get something dark and edgy, like rocker Demi Lovato?
Maybe I should get something chic and sophisticated, like my one and only television role model, Megyn Kelly?
Ultimately, I narrowed my selection to two realistic favorites which I shared on my Facebook page so people could give me their opinions on the cuts. Julianne Hough rocking the short, but not TOO short hair.
Or Emma Watson rocking the safe, but definitely short style.
The rubber hit the road. It was time to decide. Money was budgeted. The appointment was booked. My decision was SAFE or SHORT, and I was going SHORT. I wasn’t 100% sure about the decision, but I was hovering around 97%.
This is me the night before the haircut. No makeup. Hair just washed and air dried. No products. No styling. My thick, frizzy inherited hair is a challenge to manage. Can you imagine how long it takes to tame this into something presentable everyday (besides a ponytail)?
This is me the morning of the haircut. Slicked back into a bun. The same way I’d worn it every day for the past five months.
I went to a new salon and booked with a stylist I’d never met. Thank goodness I had a solid referral from a former patient’s mom I trust whole-heartedly when it comes to matters of the hair!
I showed the stylist all the short hair photos I’d pinned. She didn’t want to cut my hair quite that short since it was the first time she’d EVER cut my hair and didn’t know how it was going to respond. So we agreed on a slightly longer version, Carrie Underwood’s 2016 Grammy’s cut. I knew the cut was longer than anything I’d envisioned, but it was still MUCH shorter than any style I’d had since 5th grade, so I agreed.
“All this hair is weighing you down,” she said.
So off went the hair.
I didn’t bat an eye.
This haircut was long, long overdue.
It was freeing. A weight literally lifted off my shoulders.
I had a few errands to do, but knew my husband was eagerly awaiting the results of my big haircut. All the friends and family who’d weighed in on my haircut on Facebook would appreciate an “after” picture, right? So I tried a couple selfies in the car, but that didn’t work out very well. (Selfies are the worst thing ever. SO awkward!)
After the failed selfie attempt, I went into the mall to do my errands.
As I walked the aisles, I remembered that if there’s one vanity item I really do love and appreciate, it’s clothing. With the exception of a sports bra, I haven’t requested a clothing budget in forever and a day. I glanced at myself in mirrors, trying to determine if I liked this haircut or not, whether I looked good in it or not. Was I crazy for thinking this was a good idea? What’s more, I looked deep in my eyes and noticed they didn’t sparkle any more or less after the haircut.
That’s when I started noticing a difference. Right there in the mall. Right after my big haircut. That’s when I started feeling and SEEING a difference.
This wasn’t really about a short haircut. This was about proving to myself that it was okay to take a risk. This was about proving to myself that it would turn out okay even if it wasn’t perfect. This was aligning my outsides more closely to my transformed insides. This was about seeing myself differently. This was about seeing the world differently. This, in fact, had very little to do with my outward physical appearance and very much to do with my wellness, wholeness and perspective on life. This was about me learning to say no AND yes to what’s me AND what’s not me. This was about embracing my life and taking responsibility for how I choose to live it.
I needed to think, believe and behave differently than I had before.
I needed to see myself differently.
I needed to see differently.
And that’s exactly what began to happen when I got my haircut.
I tried some more selfies that afternoon and again the next morning, but I never did share an “after” picture on my Facebook page. Guess it’s all here today, right?
Here’s the truth. The haircut wasn’t about everyone else, anyway. I didn’t need anyone’s approval or disapproval. In the end, the haircut was about taking the RISK I knew I needed to take.
Maybe I’m taking this too far. Maybe I’m overanalyzing this haircut. But what if I’m not?
What’s on your heart? What small or big decision’s been weighing on your mind for days, weeks, months or years? What risk have you been longing to take, but fear has stopped you for some reason? What do you KNOW you need to do, but can’t bring yourself to do it for any reason at all?
Here’s the secret. Nobody knows but me, but I’ve been saying YES to a lot of little things since I got that haircut six weeks ago. Saying YES to the haircut helped me see myself and the world differently, which gave me confidence to say YES to a bunch of things I wanted and needed to say YES to.
So what’s your YES today? What risk do you need to take – small or big – to propel yourself forward in life? Perhaps you need a haircut, too? Or perhaps it’s something else, anything else. I’m believing somebody’s out there, somebody’s listening, somebody needs to hear this.
TAKE the RISK.
See your life differently.
See life differently.