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The Art of Alteration

Posted Nov 13 2012 - 12:00pm

 

This week I decided to cut my hair.  All of it.  Off.

And then I changed my mind.

So then I decided to paint my nails black.

So I did but I wasn’t a fan.

Yesterday I tried tea for the sake of giving up coffee.

Ew.

 

Everyone’s seen the classic rom-com where the girl has something traumatic happen to her, there’s inspirational music, a few really close friends, a lot of shopping bags and voila!  Before your very eyes is a new woman with a great wardrobe, a new style, and soon enough, a new job, man, and life direction.  This artificial mode of changing oneself is not only difficult but oftentimes, detrimental.  Change is a created solution, a way to distract, reinvent, and upgrade “you.”  College itself is a feeder for change, surrounding you with an ambush of new ideas, new people, and drastic experiences that are almost begging you to just try something different!  But sometimes, forcing change brings you farther back than where you were to begin with.

In high school, I was terrified of change.  I never wanted to experiment, didn’t want anything in my perfect universe to alter.  I was growing and learning and experiencing but it was a more unconscious, natural process.  In the blink of an eye, I went from a shy fourteen year old to a self-assured college freshman with all the trials and tribulations that come with being a high school girl.  In the last three years at Harvard, I have changed in much more severe and sudden ways.  In the span of one summer I went from a self-conscious freshman possibly majoring in psychology to a social sophomore focused on truly experiencing college.  In the span of eight weeks over my last summer, my entire outlook on myself changed based on trials I had never faced before.  The very definition of college seems to be “change as fast as you possibly can.”  But change can be exhausting too.

New experiences, new thoughts, and four years of social experimentation is fabulous for building great stories and developing into your own person, but you must be wary as well.  If you are changing from experience to experience, on an almost bimonthly basis, how do you keep a hold of who you really are?  How do you remember the little things that make you, you?  It’s the small stuff – I don’t like black nail polish and I write poetry when I’m upset and when it’s a really terrible day I get a Grande latte and sit in the basement of the used book store and browse for antiques – the little quirks that keep you sane and keep you so uniquely you. 

So yes, change is great.  Change is necessary.  Go to Paris and style your hair differently and get a piercing if you really want to just because it’s “so you!”  But change is not always the answer.  Sometimes, rather than jumping forward to avoid the reality that’s staring you in the face, what’s really necessary is a small look back at the girl who used to watch Singing in the Rain with her grandparents every Saturday night, the girl who knows that if she goes a full ten hours without coffee, the world may just end, and the girl who would give just about anything to be baking peanut butter Christmas cookies with mom in November.  The phrase, “You’re great, don’t ever change,” is irrational.  Growth is necessary; just don’t lose yourself in the process.

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