The Chop of a Lifetime: How My Drastic Hair Change Changed My Outlook

Ever since I could remember, I had long hair that reached past my hips. But, after I finished high school, this quickly changed. Cutting off around 10 inches of my hair was one of the scariest things I had ever done; and one that I didn’t entirely mean to do. I realized that all my life I had hidden behind my hair. It had become a part of my identity and with a snip of a pair of scissors, it was gone. Never once in my 18 years of life did I think of cutting it. I loved my long messy and wavy hair and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I cut it on June 23, the day I was graduating from my hometown Connecticut high school. It felt like the first day of the rest of my life. I booked a hair appointment with intentions of a quick trim. After waiting 40 minutes, I finally was put in a chair. At this point of my day, I was already tired and frustrated and a part of me feared being late to my own high school graduation. My usual hairdresser was in a different mood than usual and we talked little about what I wanted. Out of nowhere, I asked if he would cut my hair short (rhetorically). Many times before, he told me it would be a crime to cut such long hair like mine. But, today was different, he said he would do it that second.

I was taken back by his response since no one had ever suggested cutting my hair. The thought never occurred to me to actually cut it, I mean not REALLY. Maybe it would be a fun change for college and maybe it would be the "new me." I am not an inherently impulsive person, so cutting all my hair off was not something I ever imagined I would do. And, we know where this is going; I practically cut it all off. I asked for only 6 inches, already terrified of the results, and when he gave me the first strand of cut hair to hold, I was mortified. There I stood (yes stood, my hair was so long I needed to stand for him to cut it), holding my own hair as tears welled in my eyes. It was much shorter than I had expected or wanted.

I can’t explain why I was so scared and anxious. I wanted to scream at my hairdresser, throw up and cry all at once. But I did none of the sort and instead sat down and patiently waited for him to finish. I sat for another hour, emotionless, holding my hair that should be on my head and staring in the mirror at someone who could not possibly be me. The hairdresser joked, “are you going to cry now or wait till you get home?” I told him that I would wait until I left, except I wasn’t joking. He blew out my hair and I left, without saying a single word during the rest of the process. I didn’t feel like myself anymore and was terrified to show up at graduation with that terrible feeling. I hated my hair, I hated how I looked, and suddenly I felt more insecure than I ever had before.

I cried the whole way home and then for the next few hours. I had to redo my makeup two times and soon after gave up. My family was shocked, my mother asking, “Why I would ever do such a thing?” My father gave me his usual belly-rumbling laugh, saying, “How could you possibly cry about something like this? It’s just hair Taylor, it grows back.”

That was all it took for my world to realign – He was right. A part of me was so scared and so lost without my hair. My physical appearance meant so much to me and realizing that made me feel childish. I didn’t want to go to my own graduation because of something as insignificant as my hair!

I think the worst feeling throughout this whole fiasco was that I felt less feminine without my hair. I felt like less of a woman and less of myself. Affiliating long hair with femininity was the worst thing I could've done to myself and learning this helped me grow to love my new look. Running my fingers through my now mostly straight hair and it ending so abruptly was a terrible feeling.

I’ll always remember my graduation day because I did change, not just because of my hair. I changed how I looked at myself and finally learned how to be confident with who I truly am. When I got to graduation, multiple people complimented my hair and reassured me that it was not the life-threatening mistake I had made it out to be. It felt amazing to be with the people I loved on such an important day and I was able to forget about my over-exaggerated breakdown from just hours prior.

It’s been a few months since that day and looking back, I can’t believe it didn’t happen sooner. Yes, at the time it felt terrible, but now I love my short hair and couldn’t imagine it any other way. I think a part of me truly believed confidence was loving how you looked and I put too much emphasis on that.

Cutting my hair taught me how much more confidence is made up of and how it’s about loving yourself in times where you are struggling to. It’s about loving your personality and being okay with yourself in times of change. I will admit there are still days when I miss my old hair, but instead of feeling sad I am nostalgic. The girl with long hair seems like a stranger, and I’m okay with that.

 

I’m not sure where my hair journey will take me next, but for now, I feel both happy and confident with my chop! 

 

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