I cut my hair a while ago. Like, months ago. And I’ve known since it was happening that it was a mistake.

It’s a silly story that at my darkest moments makes me feel shame for feeling so petty and vain, but I really learned a lot from this experience.

My hair was long. Longer than it has ever been before. It’s greying, but I still appreciate the colour. It’s a lot of thin hair so it isn’t great with keeping volume but it looked cute in a long braid or pulled back.

I was hot and tired from the sweltering summer heat made worse by smoke from out of control forest fires. I hadn’t had a haircut in so long because of an abundance of caution due to the pandemic. I was feeling out of control about everything big around me and this felt like something I could control.

I have had short hair in the past and I have loved it as well as not loved it. There’s only so much you can do with short hair, which is a comfort when it feels like the entirety of life is spent reacting to things that happen around you beyond your control. But right now that’s just been it, there’s only so much you can do with short hair and I miss the creativity I had with the length.

I went to a discount haircut place in the strip-mall by my home. The poor stylist was absolutely terrified by my request. “I am done with this long hair. I have a picture that I would like my hair to match. Here it is.” He looked at it and quietly said “this is a lot of hair you’re wanting to cut, are you sure?” “Yes.” I said. I. Was. Sure.

I was so sure that I could not stand having this long hair to take care of for another moment. I was done with having to find hair elastics and brushes and spend forever washing it. I was done dealing with how limp it always felt. I was just finished with it. And unconsciously, as well as more importantly, I was done with all of the uncontrollable situations around me. It’s just a lot easier to cut hair away for $25 and 30 minutes with no appointment than it is to sort out a forest on fire, horrible summer heat, and to once-and-for-all eradicate a pandemic.

As he cut I knew I had messed up. Badly. He was unsure. He was scared. He was having a moment that I knew he would remember for the rest of his career, if not life… I can just tell by looking at someone as they work on certain things. I am very aware of my role in these types of moments for other people and I am so glad that I was able to sit as calmly as I could without crying or making any reference to what I was truly feeling. This feels like a skill I developed after my daughter was born. Kids do things that stop your heart, but if it’s not going to be a permanent mistake, it’s good for their development to just shush-up and let them learn. This was this poor young man’s moment to learn.

It was also my moment to learn. It was my moment to sit in consequence. It was my moment to regret my haste. It was my moment to acknowledge that a haircut is not a good way to fix the bigger problems of the world around you.

It was an experience.

I still have that same haircut. It’s grown out a lot, but it isn’t the same as the hair I had before. It won’t ever be the same as it was, which is ok. Life flows forward. This is a time for me to appreciate what I have and to move forward more deliberately. When I feel feverishly compelled to make decisions that make little sense, I can appreciate this lesson.

What I have realized since is that this is not the first time I have cut my hair in order to make my life feel more under my control. I have done it at other times of overwhelm in my life. But I have never regretted or been as acutely aware of the reasons behind why I did it as I was this time.

I find this such a delightful, quirky pattern that I had developed. However, with that being said I’m glad that I have the self-awareness to recognize that it wasn’t actually helpful this time or any other, really. I now recognize that it just symbolizes an attempt to reign in an unruly world surrounding me. There are much better ways. I don’t want to go through this again. I love my hair long.

For me, long hair is calm hair.

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