It’s funny how we can go from feeling confident in one moment to questioning every aspect of ourselves, mere seconds later.
I think it took about 2 minutes for my hairstylist of five years to follow through on my request to give me 5 extra minutes in the morning – “Make my life easier!” I demanded, as what was supposed to be a routine trim turned into a full-on hair cut of more than 8 inches of healthy hair. Did I mention that my impressionable 6 year old daughter had accompanied me that day, preventing the chance for the sylist to say “Are you sure you really want to do that?” The pressure was on, I had to commit to this decision. I told him I wanted to chop it and be different for awhile. And then it happened.
My girl looked at me, then looked at the huge pile of fluffy blond hair on the floor, and again looked to me to see my reaction. “Ah, this is great! So much easier!” I exclaimed, similar to a recent tweet (“Short hair, don’t care!”) by Taylor Swift, who apparently had her long hair whacked while on stage. Inside I thought “Oh God!! What have I just done? And merely weeks before I’m scheduled to do a public speaking engagement at the Fertility Planit conference?!” “Christ.” I thought, “This is a disaster.”
Ok, I will admit; simultaneously I felt freed. Happy. Excited even! The prospect of a fresh new look and less time being spent blowing out long locks was going to be nice after having a pound of hair constantly weighing me down and causing almost daily headaches from wearing various up-do’s for the past 10 years.
I surprised myself with the way that I let this decision uproot me. I’m usually so grounded! Recall that people come to me for help getting grounded. But here I find myself, ridiculously going back and forth in indecision about what to do next, feeling insecure about other decisions I make, and unnecessarily judging myself harshly even weeks later. Luckily I had years of counseling grief patients to make it clear that my new neurosis had arisen from a loss of the familiar. This latest “spiritual crisis” triggered a renewed appreciation for the word vulnerablity.
So being the spiritual person I claim to be, I committed to going deeper to figure out why this was getting me so worked up, when normally it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Hair “grows back”, yes, but it symbolizes many things, especially for women in my position (mid-forties with two small children in tow, and growing some kind of public presence). For starters, can hide in long hair. We can be perceived as younger with longer hair. We can play with long hair: twist it up, let it down, smell it, pull it off our faces, feel sexy… My longer hair gave me something to do and suddenly it’s missing, and I feel a little less like myself as a result. There it is. I got stuck processing the loss of the relationship with my hair . Who cares that several people think it looks “better”?
While this is truly the last thing I would want to admit to a public forum, I think it’s worthwhile. Sociologist and brilliant public speaker Brene Brown has a very popular TED talk online that validates my feelings. It’s appropriately called “The Power of Vulnerability” and it’s where she admits having a “breakdown” from telling a crowd of 500 (not to mention the internet!) that she felt vulnerable. She makes a joke about running to her therapist to fully analyze her “breakdown”, whereby she was told “It sounds like you are having a spiritual crisis.”
Hers is an awesome talk about how allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is where innovation, creativity and change are born. So I feel comforted knowing that someone as well received as she has walked this walk before me. I’m still okay! In comparison to other things going on, this is a small change for me. It’s my ability to adapt and embrace change that reflects a healthy spirit, and we as women want to remember that.
Enjoy the talk by Brene Brown. While watching, be sure to notice her hair. She looks fabulous.