During my years at college, I decided to grow my hair out.
It doesn’t seem like a monumental decision. However, it was a pretty big decision for me, as I had never permitted my hair to grow past my shoulders, because my hair is more or less a sentient being capable of complex thought; it’s kind of like having Super Saiyan hair without the otherworldly strength and crazy powers that come with it.
Every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror, I don’t know what to expect. Sometimes it’s semi-relaxed and I am able to style it into something moderately presentable for the day. Other times, it’s a frizzy, tangled mess that takes three hair ties and approximately 72 bobby-pins to contain. If I want to straighten it, I have to give myself at least an hour to do it and on humid days, it takes an hour and a half.
My hair is a force to be reckoned with. Whenever I think I’ve found a shampoo and conditioner combo that will tame the beast, it rebels against me. Products will work for a few uses, and then my hair will somehow evolve and develop a way to fight against it. Keratin? HAH. Don’t make me laugh. Argan oil? You must be joking. My hair is a supreme power, and nothing can prevent it from becoming the wild, tangled mess it’s destined to be.
Last summer, I’d had enough of the demon hair.
My hair was almost to my waist by then, after almost four years of growing it out. I hadn’t had a haircut in years, so I called up my stylist and scheduled an appointment. When I showed up at the salon, I don’t think anyone recognized me and I felt like a mountain man descending back to civilization after three years without encountering humanity… or a hairdresser. My hair was a disaster.
I asked my stylist to chop it all off. She asked if I was ABSOLUTELY sure, and I said yes. So she chopped off over twelve inches of the mane of doom, and I watched my crazy curls collect on the floor in a pile that soon resembled a brunette Cousin It from The Addams Family. With a few snips from her scissors, my rebellious hair was gone.
I was very happy with my new hairstyle at first. My hairdresser does excellent work. But shortening my hair doesn’t tame it much, and it does not last for long. It doesn’t change anything about it, except for the length. It’s still a complete pain to control, requires way too much time and effort to style, and can defeat even the strongest hair products with its tangle of curls and wild waves. I am the Master of Broken Combs and Severed Hair Ties, and that title remains, no matter how long my hair is. So, it wasn’t long before I regretted my decision to cut it off, and I began to process of growing it back out.
While I was growing it out the first time, my hair was a point of pride for me, but it got too difficult to maintain, and so I decided to just get rid of it all at once. Despite my choice, I felt better about myself when it was longer. I guess that’s silly, but after I cut it, I didn’t feel as confident as I used to… which is something I’ve always struggled with, regardless of the length of my hair. It didn’t take much time for me to realize that cutting my hair was a temporary fix to a minor annoyance, and it didn’t do anything to solve some of the deeper issues I was going through at the time. And I think that might have been the subconscious reason why I decided to cut it off. I was trying to exert control over something to make up for the things that were out of my control.
Regret is an interesting thing. I was so, so sure that I wanted to cut off my hair. Maybe I thought it would cure some of the other dissatisfaction I was experiencing at the time, but, obviously, it didn’t. Because it’s just hair. It’s trivial. And changing the external does not often lead to a change in the internal.
I have more regrets than a simple haircut, though I have found that it does no good to dwell on them for too long. Especially those events that might have happened years and years ago, but you suddenly recall them when you’re trying to fall asleep at night and cringe both internally and externally at the embarrassment and shame and agonize over and over, “Why did I do that?” I feel like everybody has moments like that. Those “Dear God, why did I do that?” moments that haunt us, from awkward adolescence to adulthood.
But I suppose that regret has some benefits, too. Because it’s possible to learn from your regrets and your mistakes. A rash decision can seem like a terrible choice at first, but the outcome might reveal itself to be a blessing in disguise. I mean… this probably isn’t the case for more questionable/unforgivable mistakes that lead to jail time and whatnot, but bear with me here.
A little over a year later, my hair is well on its way to being a mane that even Simba would be jealous of. It’s still a mess most of the time, and has defeated about three brushes in the last few months, but I’ve learned to accept it for what it is, and deal with it the best that I can. I regret my decision to cut my hair last year, but it was not a total loss, because I was able to learn from the experience. I know that changing my appearance does not fix the things that affect me on the inside, and that if I want to change certain aspects of my life, a haircut is probably not the way to go about it.
Things change, and life changes, and hair grows back. As much as you try to assert dominance and power over all aspects of your life, some things are out of control, like crazy hair, or unfortunate circumstances, or certain events that fill us with regret once they are over. And while regret can be a terrible thing, it doesn’t always have to be.
Because you can’t learn from mistakes if you never make any. All that matters is if you take something out of it, and do not let regret hold you back from making choices in the first place.