Staring down the barrel of their mid-20’s, a lot of young people are eager to make changes in their lives, whether that be pursuing a job opportunity, finishing school, going back to school, or finding a significant other. As I came to the tail end of my undergraduate days, I was beginning to feel that itch. Similar to a lot of young people, I was in the midst of going through life changes as well, and wanted each change to physically manifest itself for all to see. That’s when I decided to pull the trigger and dye my hair, which turned into an interesting journey as I went through the slew of colors.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend like dying my hair sparked this life-changing journey that enabled me to finally see my true colors (#seewhatididthere). Changing my hair for those several months was honestly just a way to keep myself and my appearance as fun and entertaining as possible. If I am being 100% honest, while the colors were very fun and exciting, I got really sick of only being able to wash it once a week, and having clumps of it fall out in the shower because it was so damaged. But to say that I didn’t learn a thing or two (outside the realm of hair care) from this experience would be a lie. While my hair was going through drastic and shocking changes, so was I in my personal life.
Last December was when I first decided to to experiment with permanent hair color. I just turned 23, I was practically working full time, and I’ve been wanting blue hair for quite some time. I asked my boss at the time what the company policy was with hair dying. Though it took her a couple months to finally give me a response, she told me that since I wasn’t directly interacting with any clients or customers, I could do whatever I wanted to my hair. Around this time, I thought I had finally figured out my life. Though me feelings now have changed, I thought I was finally in a place in my career that I was comfortable with and wanted to pursue. I wanted to show and maintain my creativity through designs and marketing, and work with other creatives to make a business shine while maintaining its integrity. This had been a very personal accomplishment for me because for the past several years, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I felt that in that moment, I had finally found it.
Towards the end of May, I had been working at my marketing job for about 9 months, and I was working as a student assistant for over a year and a half. I was also approaching the end of my undergraduate career at Cal Poly, a day that was a long time coming. I felt that I had jumped through a few too many hoops in order to get my degree, but having overcome those obstacles, when that day came, it was all worth it. Having realized that I was in such a toxic place at my marketing job, I began relentlessly searching for jobs elsewhere in fields outside of the one I was working in. I reached the end of all ends in my motivation to try and impress the people I was working with, and I was sick of being reminded that I was at the bottom of the totem pole. I wanted out. I was interviewing for jobs here and there, and preparing for the life to come next after graduation. I interviewed and interviewed, and I was given a handful of maybe’s and a barrel-full of no’s. I was beginning to accept the idea that I would have to remain in the job I was working in at the time – while it wasn’t the best place for me to be emotionally and mentally, at least it was a paycheck. One day at my marketing job, I got a phone call from my boss at my on campus job. Normally, he wouldn’t try to contact me when I wasn’t in the office, so I knew that this had to be urgent. He informed me of a position that had opened up within our division, and told me to apply for it. I quietly, yet excitedly, went back to my desk and filled out the job application. I was called in for an interview the following Monday and got the job on the spot. Since the blue in my hair was already fading quite a bit, and since it had been several months since I colored it, I decided to dye it again to mark ending this current chapter once and for all. Truthfully, the color that I chose for this dye job served as a subtle middle finger and grand exit to those I would be leaving at my off campus job. (I like to think I’m not that petty, but given what I was put through, I think I’m well justified). I went into work the following day, gave them my week’s notice (which still, even at this point, feels a bit generous), and left at the end of the month.
That summer, I found myself in a much healthier place in my life than I had been for a very long time – I held a stable job in a place that I genuinely enjoyed working in, I finally got my bachelor’s degree, and my relentless pursuit of the Lord remained intact. The only thing missing at this point was a permanent residence, as I was getting ready to move houses for the umpteenth time. Living the life of an unrooted vagabond (wow, that came out way more dramatic than I had intended), I was again losing all sense of permanency and what it truly felt like to be at home – a post you can read all about here. Even though there was no end in sight to the fervent house hunting, I was glad I wasn’t going at it alone, and that I was building relationships with my soon-to-be roommates.
This past October, the healthy place I had discovered a few months earlier became my home. In addition to being comfortably settled in my job, I moved into a house that continues to feel like a home because of the people I share it with. I found a church nearby to get plugged into, and was pleased at how seamlessly I assimilated into that new community. To mark the end of a tumultuous year, I rang in my 24th year with so much encouragement, optimism, and genuine happiness and contentment.
While the colors were almost as fun as my friends’ and family’s reactions every time I changed it, there still remained the fact that I had bleached and toned it four times within a span of eight months. Even though I was saying goodbye to old situations and finishing chapters in my life, I was still hanging onto the scars that they caused me. My hair was damaged, unhealthy, and becoming too cumbersome to deal with. The last time I bleached my hair, the level of unhealth that it observed was astonishing. I realized that much like the colors were a facade to hide the damaged hair, I used things like my degree and my awesome job to mask the hurt I was still feeling inside from the past several months. Just as you have to cut off your dead and damaged hair, you have to let go of the toxicity and grudges that you cling onto from your past lives. A couple weeks ago, I was finally ready to let go of all of the negativity I had been holding onto. As trite and cliche as this may sound, cutting off all of my discolored and damaged hair was a true symbol of being ready to let go of any residue from the past year I’ve kept tucked away for too long. Now, I’m ready to start over and see my current relationships and circumstances grow and blossom and see where this current stage of life takes me.