I now have an entire social circle that has only known me with short hair.
This is admittedly an odd thought to have, but it’s been on my mind a lot over the last couple of weeks. It’s yet another sign that I have, in fact, moved to D.C. and that I’ve not been dreaming the last eight months (because there are definitely days when I wake up still half-convinced this will all have been a dream).
I’ve had my hair in a pixie cut of some kind for just over a year now, and I love it. Yes, I have to get a cut once a month or so, but I can style it with my fingers after I get out of the shower. That’s huge for someone who hated to even go through the effort to put up a ponytail.
But before I made the final cut, so to speak, I wavered back and forth on getting a pixie cut for years. What if my face wasn’t suited for such a short cut? Plus, I already knew from experience that the shorter my hair is, the curlier it gets without all that weight to hold it straight — what if having it so short made it absolutely unruly?
I still remember sitting in the chair when it was first cut short; half of my hair had already been cut when I had one of those moments of finger-curling, stomach-turning panic. What the hell was I thinking? I’m never going to be able to pull off this cut! My jawline isn’t defined enough, it’s gonna make my head and neck look like one gigantic blob, it’s going to shoot out in all directions like an anime character, what if I have a bald spot that was hidden before…
Eventually, I closed my eyes and listened as my hairstylist continued to reassure me that it was going to be a great cut (and also commented on just how much hair was piling up on the floor; even though my hair was only shoulder-length at that point, it’s thick, so there was a lot of it).
And I’ve never regretted my decision to cut it.
After I made the cut, I got a lot of comments from friends, family, and acquaintances about how great my hair looked, how well the cut suited me, and so on and so forth. They all sounded just as surprised and excited as I felt every time I looked in the mirror: I have short hair. And it looks good!
Fast-forward through a career change and location change to a few weeks ago. I was sitting with a few friends for dinner, generally having a good time, when the conversation shifted to driver’s license photos. My photo is from back when I was twenty, at a point in my hairstyle-timeline where I had a lot of layers in my hair; I would often use my straightener to flip out the ends. Needless to say, in my tiny photo, there’s a lot of hair.
One of my friends saw it and commented, “I just can’t imagine you with long hair!”
Now, she’s not the only one who’s said that to me since I’ve moved here, but it really struck me at the time. All of my friends and acquaintances here literally have never known me with longer hair.
And it’s strange, because I had always recognized at some level that my hair was a part of my identity — why else would I be freaking out so much about cutting it off, especially when it grows back? — but it wasn’t until that moment that I realized just how deep in my identity that ran. I am, in some sense, defined by the look of my hair.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s a part of my identity I embrace (especially because I know that people who know me recognize there’s more to me than a haircut). I had someone at Walmart the other day randomly comment on how great my hair looked. And, as everyone knows, it’s always nice to get genuine compliments on your appearance (not to be confused with catcalling, but that’s another post), so it’s nice to know that my haircut still works for me.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I think that moment was also a reaffirmation that I do, indeed, live in a completely new area of the country where almost no one here knew me before January. For a small-town Montana girl, that’s a pretty strange idea to wrap my head around. But I’m getting used to it, and I have to say, I really like it. (Even with its horribly humid days.)