Every year I cut all my hair off. This cycle started seven years ago (I’m 22), with a respite of three years between the ages of 16 and 19. I give it pretty close to 365 days to grow down past my shoulders, at which point I ask a friend to get the scissors out of the kitchen drawer and to cut a nice curve from earlobe to earlobe.
This action usually results in:
- a wonky haircut
- wild disapproval from males
- wild approval from females
- instant gratification
It’s the latter (not points 1 and 2, weirdly), the need for instant gratification, which pushes me, it’s the need for something to change. For me, the drastic cut is less about making a style statement than scratching an itch that has been bothering me (approximately since the moment a strand of hair first reached a shoulder). And because I can’t put my finger on what that something is, but also because I feel like I can’t drastically change anything in my life at that very moment the itch becomes almost unbearable, I do something drastic to my appearance: something I can feel and something others can see instantly.
Yasmin Sewell pinpoints the moment her life changed to three days after shaving off her waist-length curly hair: “And actually, the moment I shaved it, my life completely changed. I met my boyfriend at the time and I moved to London and got into fashion and I felt like myself.” (Vogue) Like Yasmin Sewell, my short hair suits me and gives me a new confidence, but unlike her, I can’t seem to really grasp that novelty and to evolve from it. After a couple of months, when the ‘cool’ flick has drooped and there’s no one left to see my new hair for the first time, I start feeling bored, unfeminine, and unsexy. When the excitement has worn off, I’m already looking to the next drastic transformation: “Sigh… What I wouldn’t give for Gigi Hadid’s long wavy hair!”
But it’s going to take time to own that mane, and the journey is probably going to be boring. Most importantly, I won’t have any power over its growth, just like I don’t have any power over the slow going of my university masters course. Even though I’m finally on the right path, doing something I want to do and in which I’m invested (and I can even see a very blurry end goal!), I can’t see it, nor can I feel it, and that can be difficult to accept.
But this year, it’s different. It’s been 399 days since my hair was touched, and I plan on keeping it that way, at least for another 331 days. I’m learning that not cutting my hair, even if it’s a much longer process, still gives me a kind of power. Even if my personal and professional life havent’t given me any instant gratification for a while, I know that I’m building something, and that one day I’ll really feel it. In the meantime, I’ve learnt to pause and appreciate the progress I (and my hair) have made. I’m starting to enjoy the small changes as well as the knowledge that change is a perpetual process. I’m playing the long game.