Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Very Hairy Matter of Being Comfortable In My Own Skin

I have always been a connoisseur of color when it comes to my hair. In my childhood I was obsessed with wigs and colored hair spray--anything that could add a little pizzazz or blast of color.

Since my Freshman year of college, I haven't (naturally) had my actual hair color and jumped from green to purple, to orange... I was changing it so often there are some colors I don't even have documentation of because their time with me was so brief.

I'm a brunette, by the way. Not that it's relevant or that you specifically care but I figure it must be something people occasionally wonder about judging by the tone they employ when they ask, "What *IS* your natural hair color?"

If you know what you're looking for, you can tell a lot about me from how I wear my hair. You know how some people wear their heart on their sleeve? I wear mine on my head. During the time of fire-engine red I was rediscovering my dreams and really going for what I wanted in life so I wanted to be bold and daring. When it temporarily switched to ginger, I was feeling like I stuck out too much--then I went back because I realized I didn't care if I stuck out too much.

But that hasn't always been the case.

In my awkward days of college (that is to say,when I was in college, because I'm still pretty awkward), my hair was a shield. It was ever changing because I was extremely dissatisfied with things I could not control or felt I couldn't control and my hair became my outlet for expressing that. I bleached it, chopped it, colored and cropped it. Back then, it was a distraction, both for myself and everyone else.

For me it distracted from the fact that I didn't like how I looked, how I felt, or that I was dealing with a general sense of inadequacy in everything from my school work to my love life. It was a deterrent for my own self-loathing (because most artists at least at some point in their life go through a period of extreme self-loathing) and deluded me into thinking I had control in the chaos.

For everyone else it distracted from the absolute mess hiding behind it. If you're too busy looking at this bright thing on my head, you won't be looking at me--or you'll be fooled into thinking that I don't care what you have to say because I'm "breaking social norms"... with hair dye.

It's just hair dye, past-Kiri.

But you can only play the Clementine Kruczynski card for so long before you have to go over some serious self-evaluation. Which meant an uncomfortable confrontation with all of those fantastic little reasons of why I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.

And I'd like to tell you from that moment on I went on to be happy with every facet of myself.

But that's not how life works. But I was able to at least identify those issues I'd been ignoring so I could try to work on them daily. Some were easy. I had acne, so I read up, I limited greasier food, I put together a regimen of cleansers and creams and eventually that cleared up. I had trouble keeping up in one of my physical technique classes so I started going for walks/runs on my days off. I was lonely so I started to get to know some of my classmates better or (which ended up being the smarter of the two choices) made friends outside of both my department and my school.

Others were not so easy. Others were made with years of insecurities and...frankly I'm still working on them. Because we're kinda just a mess like that and that's okay. Frankly, I would like to celebrate the absolute chaos that we are as adults. It's crazy, when you think about it. Figuring out how to stop carrying emotional baggage, learning from your mistakes but not being crippled by them.

Whenever someone says they're going away for a while to "find themselves", I have to laugh a little--and I don't mean that cruelly. It's just... we're always looking for ourselves. Much like my hair, we change every day. Who you are now will not be the same person you were a week ago. Similar... but not the same.

I still have to remind myself I have talents, or that I'm a good person and admittedly most days I know these things... but every now and then, once in a blue moon, I really need that reminder.

We have a weird way of getting lost a lot as human beings.

And now my hair is a point of pride. Regardless how I'm feeling about myself that day, there is one unalienable fact I've come to realize by shifting through the shades: I am a freaking chameleon. Somehow in my pale freckled Irish genes was the ability to pull off nearly any hair color and I have exploited that fact like crazy. I feel like Sidney Bristo, causing serious double-takes when I walk by friends who don't recognize me off the bat.

I love that. It's a weird gift, but it's one I truly do love and one I really can't argue with even in my darkest hours of self doubt. And having that? Seriously has helped me more than you'd think.

Everyone's got one. Find yours.




  1. It's good that you've found that. Not sure I have the hair required, and I'm very definitely NOT celebrating my head full of broken glass, but perhaps I will find my equivalent one day. Sooner rather than later hopefully.
    Working on it.
    As a side note, I do like the two pictures you've used here. :)

  2. I haven't gone through many colors other than my own (just red and black), but I actually think mine was for the opposite reasons as yours. I've been rather shy in the past, and the red and black were such extreme colors, they forced me to come to the forefront more. I stuck out for the first time, really.

    Also, I suppose you're right that we're always looking for ourselves. HOWEVER... (smiles)... I'm probably a couple of decades further along than you are, and I'd like to say that, yes, somewhere along the line, I DID "find myself." I really did. And, after a couple of decades of self-loathing, I really, really like myself. But it does sometimes take journeys of "finding ourselves" to get grounded. While the phrase itself is cliche, I highly encourage anyone to travel for that reason--whether physically, or internally, or (preferably) both.

    Just because I feel that I've "found myself" does not, in any way, negate my future growth. I still evolve DAILY, and change whole entire facets of myself from year to year. But at least I can keep up now. :)

    Best of luck to you, lady. Just the little bit I know of you (mostly via writing) is fantastic. I think your hair color doesn't even matter. You can't hide brilliance.

  3. I find you so beautiful. Bright and smart and quick with a smile. I'm really glad you've been putting yourself through the difficult and often painful process of finding the things that work for you and ways to love yourself as you deserve. I'm really proud of you.

  4. I can totally relate to this, I have been changing my hair since junior high. Always something I want to do when I feel like I don't have control over other things in my life. At least I can change my hair. I've dwelled in what it means and what others think of me and blah blah.

    But, I'm trying to just do what I want now, wear what I want, have the hair color I want.

    I went to Ireland, thinking I would do a little finding of myself. And I did- I found out that no matter where I am, I am the same person. Seems obvious and simple, but it hit me in this really deep way. It was hard, and wonderful.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. Glad I could reflect on it too.

    1. I'm really touched it inspired you to share this. <3