Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.
I recently decided to go for broke and dye my hair blue. Or at least a portion of it, blue. While this might seem like quite a mundane, unimportant event to many of you (perhaps not the blue part but the dyeing one), for me, it was one of those break free moments. You see, I have always been afraid to dye my hair. This was probably partially drilled into me by my stepmother, and not without reason. You could say that I am lucky to have a hair color that many people strive to obtain through dyes. My hair is a naturally red-dark brown, kind of like mahogany. The product of a mixed marriage between my Japanese mother and American, redhead father. Dark and glossy, but tinted red in the sunlight. My stepmother would remind me often, when out and about, just how covetous people were of my hair color, by pointing out all the passing women who attempted to achieve its color but fell short of the mark. Too purple, too orange, just not right…and so on.
You can imagine that years of this kind of commentary made me very apprehensive about changing my hair color. Why would I do anything to tarnish this natural bit of perfection? Perhaps the only bit of perfection on my whole body, a self-conscious, teenage Sahy-fi mused. I could also envision the horror my parents would exhibit in the event I changed my color. My dad even expressed some disappointment one year in college when I chopped off my long hair. To this day, my heart twists when I imagine doing something that disappoints my parents. OH THE HORROR! My parents’ opinions have always mattered a lot to me. Mix that with a lot of anxiety about earning their disapproval and, well, you’ve got a recipe for OK I’M NEVER DOING THAT. End chapter.
Fast forward 15 years. Having had the same haircut for basically ten years, I am on the more mild end of the spectrum of people who cry at the hairdressers when going in for a trim. Though I may not shed any tears, my stomach seizes up in knots at the loss of more than an inch or two of hair. That being said, my relationship with my hair is like a rollercoaster ride. Some days I love it and others I just want to chop all of it off in a mad rage. Of course, I’ve never actually gone and done that, though I have certainly threatened. If you’re not good, hair, I swear….
The years have also brought on the dreaded whites, which started accumulating the year I turned 25. I think I have both my parents to thank for that. My father turned grey and lost a lot of his hair by his mid-30’s, and I remember my 30-something year-old mother forcing me to pull out her white hairs for her when I was young. That experience was traumatizing. I couldn’t help but feel like I was doing something to hurt her, even though she asked me to do it (kid logic). To this day, I can not for the life of me pull out my white hairs. I use a pair of scissors to get rid of unwanted whites and have gotten used to the spiky white hairs taking turns standing tall as lone sequoias in burnt out forests.
Whether it was the onslaught of white hairs or just a desire to do something crazy, I decided it was time to make a change. So, a few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a Japanese hair salon, finally joining the ranks of bleached up, tin-foiled, adventurous ladies. Within a few hours, years of agonizing contemplation went up in a blaze of bleach fumes. I had turned the page of a new chapter. As I marveled afterwards at the jeweled blue and purple tones occupying half of the hairs on my head (I definitely wasn’t ready t0 go for the full-shebang just yet), I couldn’t help but reflect upon the importance of the moment. For years, I had allowed fear to paralyze me. I had convinced myself that disaster was likely to be the only outcome of any hair dyeing experience, which is such a classic avoidance method. This was yet another instance of my refusal to leave my comfort zone. But by giving in to fear and avoiding change, we end up missing out on a lot of potentially great opportunities. Like having blue hair, yo.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself over the line and make a change. What is it everyone always says? You don’t want to look back at your life and regret all the things you didn’t do. Take risks. Even small ones. For every small one you take, you’ll be more likely to take a bigger one next time.
And don’t forget to stand up for yourself. You see, my dye job didn’t go according to plan. The gorgeous blue hair I envisioned….well, let’s just say what I ended up with was so dark you could barely see it without a magnifying glass. I was crushed. I spent a week stewing and then decided I needed to go back there to get the blue hair of my dreams (or at least a cheap knockoff). This impetus to go back was actually (another!) really big deal for me. I have always been a bit of a pushover. I don’t like inconveniencing people, even to my own detriment. I found the courage to stand up for myself, though, and much to my surprise, my hairdresser wasn’t mad. He was sympathetic to my woes and went above and beyond to get me the hair that I wanted. Second moral of the story, don’t ever sell yourself short. It is only through taking happiness for yourself that you will have the capacity to pass it on to others. Love yourself. And always listen to your heart.
For all of you out there who are contemplating your first big dye job, I am here for you! GO FOR IT.