In a recent outburst of rash self-confidence (read: IDGAF), I decided to dye my hair pink. Why? Because I wanted to. And I wanted to live a life a little less governed by fear. That decision was met with a lot of mixed reactions, but the majority of them were positive. And in a weird way, it’s given me a renewed perspective on my life. Here’s what happened in the aftermath of that hair bleaching, pink dying, let’s-do-this Saturday afternoon.
1. A lot of strangers started talking to me
I have pretty terrible social anxiety. Unless I’m some kind of intoxicated, I’m not about to start a conversation with strangers. Or make eye contact with strangers. Or generally be near strangers. But I tell ya what, you dye your hair pink and walk into a bar and suddenly you’re best friends with that drunk girl at the end of the table who loves your hair and wishes she could do it but oh, she couldn’t! she’s not gutsy enough but OH MY GOSH YOUR HAIR IS GREAT.
And yet somehow (OK, sometimes intoxication is still a factor) my reaction to these situations is an abnormally friendly HEY THANKS! And the next thing I know I’m chatting to random people about how hair bleach feels like the fires of Mordor when it’s soaking into your scalp.
2. I got in trouble at work
I’m a big believer in the old adage, “ask for forgiveness rather than permission.” So while I did propose the idea to my immediate supervisor at school, I definitely didn’t ask upper management if they’d be cool with me dying my hair bright pink. Probably because, let’s be honest…they’d say no. But my boss in Kindergarten let it fly so I went for it anyway.
And boy, was I the talk of the school. The director said it was “too punk” and not appropriate for school. I walked around the corner in the admin building and accidentally scared the bejeezus out of one of the management staff there. Luckily she was too taken aback to lecture me before I escaped.
Eventually they had a meeting and decided that it was OK since I was in Kindergarten and it’s not as serious, and since pink isn’t a really offensive color. But I can’t dye it blue. That’s going too far. (Seeking out blue hair dyes now…)
One of the women who works in admin though told me she loved it. And that the too-strict management staff could use a little color in their lives. I’m with her. The world’s a little too gloomy to not have colored hair every now and then.
3. I scared the crap out of myself repeatedly
I was sitting in a restaurant sipping on sangria the night after I had my hair done. I turned my head, and at the end of a dimly lit hall was a table in another room. And at that table was a woman with pink hair staring back at me. I turned away and then looked back, and as she gazed right back at me, I started. THAT’S NOT A WOMAN IN A DIFFERENT ROOM THAT’S YOU. Be still my quaking heart.
Pretty much every time I’ve walked past a mirror in the last two weeks I’ve had to do a double take. OH MY GOD WHO’S THAT oh that’s just me I have pink hair. CALM DOWN EVERYONE, IT’S JUST ME. I need to spend more time staring in the mirror each day. All my friends are used to my new look, but I still keep forgetting I look like the princess of candy mountain.
4. I found myself with a surprising amount of confidence
I wouldn’t say I’m traditionally stylish or fashionable. I dress well enough, but I don’t have a clue what the latest trends are, and I own multiple pieces of cat-themed clothing. Not to mention the Star Wars shirts. And while I’m happy with my appearance most of the time, I’ve never been particularly confident.
But I don’t know, there’s something about walking down the street with cotton candy hair and a pair of sunglasses and soaking in the side-eyes people are sending your way as you walk by. Like, yes, I look like a cross between a high school punk rocker and a unicorn, and yes I did it on purpose. WHAT OF IT?
It’s sort of empowering to do something most people think is stupid. Moving to Thailand was a bit like that too. Never let people’s opinions of your decisions stop you from making them. (14 months in, Thailand is still great).
5. I began to realize most things matter a lot less than we think they do
How could you dye your hair? Don’t you know the bleach will ruin it? It will look bad in a few weeks. It’s too unprofessional. You look like a little kid. That’s a wig, right?
News flash: IT’S JUST HAIR. One of the least permanent parts of our body. You cut it off, it grows back. You bleach it, it grows out. You dye it pink, it fades. In the long run, will it matter at all? Probably not. And in the short run, it’s a lot of fun.
Life in general is a bit like that. We worry so much about what other people think and what our futures will be like, that we forget to enjoy the lives we actually have right now.
I’ve been reading The Power of Now, and while it’s perhaps a little too hippie-dippie for me, I kind of love it. The general gist of it is this: Stop dwelling on the past and stop worrying about the future. The past is over, you can’t change it, and the future hasn’t happened yet, so there’s no point in worrying about it. So be here now.
So I am trying to be here, now. I have ridiculous hair and I love it. And I am slowly trying to wrap my mind around the concept of loving myself now for who I am. I am trying to find my identity here, at 27.
The people who know me know some of the incredibly difficult things I have gone through in my life. And those things have shaped me. But they do not define me. I am not the summation of my life’s tragedies. I get to choose who I am now. And I get to love who I am now. Pink hair and all.