I just started a new role at work and we’ve been talking about a lot about authenticity and what it means to be authentic. I think I’ve been really working on this the last few years, because there’s a shift in my attitude and understanding. A realization that I don’t need to consult a magazine or website to parrot how to copy how to be beautiful, how to be my best self.
I think at the beginning, that copying makes sense. We’re all so mixed up trying to figure out WHO WE ARE and everything is so jumbled together with hormones and high school and hopes and dreams and crushes and disappointments and endings and beginnings. It’s hard to find your true sense of self in the middle of all that junk. So it’s nice to latch onto someone/something and use that as a start. Some folks are lucky enough to have some internal compass and don’t need that… but I certainly did.
It was awkward for me, those middle/high school years. I always felt ungainly – too tall, too short, too big, not big enough (in specific areas)… and I didn’t know who I wanted to “be”. A natural, hippie chick? A preppie? A goth? Who WAS I? (I tried out all of these “looks” by the way…)
This is still tough for me, even at age almost-31. I flip through catalogs or online blogs, and I feel like some people are so DEFINED. There’s such a sense of self and purpose in the way they dress/talk/behave. I still feel a bit like I’m bouncing around, trying to figure myself out. I know I’m getting closer.
My tiny example is with my recent haircut. I cut off something like 12” of hair in March this year, and got a HUGE response from family and friends. I didn’t think much of it. My hair was short before I had James, and then I grew it out for 2 years… just for fun. No huge plans or intentions, maybe a dash of laziness since I didn’t have to go to the salon. I realized in those last few months that I was chasing the next thing. What was popular, or in, or would make me beautiful. That translates to long hair, with wavy curls, and maybe a dash of ombre coloring in there too.
Things to know: My hair is s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t. It’s fine. It’s resistant to curling. And with me working a full time job that starts at 6 AM… it was a best intention to “do” my hair in the morning, but it never never got done (I was thankful to shower and call it good).
I realized that this vision I had (and you can see it in my freaking Pinterest board) of big curls and flowing hair was trying to force ME into something that I’m NOT. I KEPT getting negative with myself about how I wasn’t “living up” to my expectations and standards, and when I DID manage to get it done, I was super frustrated by not getting the results I felt I should see. I was trying to square peg/round hole myself. Which is exhausting. And demoralizing. And just… stupid, frankly.
I realized that I liked my hair short. It suits me and my hair – I get volume, I get shape, I get style. I feel much more at HOME within myself – like my outsides match my insides a little better. I also get a shorter routine in the morning, which honestly really suits my season in life right now. And one last tidbit – Alan’s told me for years that he likes my hair short like this. Interesting, right? Maybe I need to give more weight to the words of my spouse than my intensely-critical and ridiculous inner voice… But maybe this is why there was such an intense reaction. Maybe people noticed that I wasn’t being everyone-else, but I was being myself. That’s valuable. Kind of scary.
My point here is that I’m getting better at listening to myself. And sure – right now it’s only something small like a haircut, but it feels so much better. And I’m pretty sure this is just the start. I need to listen to myself and honor my voice. The more I can do that, the stronger light I can shine for others. My voice will be clearer, my path will be my own. I’m in a season of excitement, doubt, fear, possibility. Me feeling less grounded is not helping that, and isn’t helping my family either. I’m trying to be more thoughtful and aware, and I’ll certainly share my progress here.