Monday, January 29, 2018

My Mulan Moment

I have had short hair for most of my life. School rule, from primary school to secondary school to high school, they required us to cut our hair short. So, my hair was either Willy Wonka or Beatle's boy cut. My friend and I used to think how ugly we looked in those hairstyles when our peers from other schools were allowed to grow their hair long or style them to a more 'presentable' state. Therefore, once we graduated from high school, the first thing we would do was to grow out our hair and I did that all the way. My hair grew slower in general and it took years for it to reach a bit longer than my shoulder length. Last February, however, I decided to cut my hair - as I called it, my 'Mulan moment'.

This might sound a little cliché, during that period of time I was troubled by a few difficult questions in my life. I had a tough time and I gradually find myself becoming someone my younger self would not look up to. Therefore, I asked myself what made me who I am now and what hold me back from becoming a better person and push me down this common path which most people drowned in everyday life? Not that I was a really flawless person before, but I used to be carefree, know what's right and wrong, know when to stand up and be firm; when to be wise and patient. I used to be brave in that way. That was when I made the decision - a decision that many around me had different opinions of.

Through the experience, I had gained a few life lessons:

1) Attachment and Impermanence
I admit that even though I had decided to cut it off, I do still feel a mix of freedom and sadness at the same time. I realized the attachment to things is real, even it is something you didn't know you appreciate that much usually. At the same time, I learn about the impermanence of nature, how things come and go eventually, just like hair that was cut will grow back eventually and when some get old, they will get lesser or whiter. Same as that, good and bad things in life come and go, leaving impact and memories on us - but eventually, they are like water in the stream flowing past you. You may find the flow too strong for you and felt being drowned by it, you may get washed backwards as you find your way upstream, but eventually, you stand back up and continue your journey, getting stronger after each time of challenge.

2) Comfort Zone
Insecurity, when you lose a big portion of your hair, sounds ridiculous. Hair is not a shield nor does it has any special defence superpower. However, having a big mop of hair around your head does give you a sense of hiding inside it. When I had it short, I felt so exposed after so long and realize that was how it felt all the time when I was younger. It reminded me that when we stay in a comfort zone for too long, we tend to forget how comfortable we are and stay as such for a very long time. This experience reminded me what it was supposed to, to remind me to be straightforward and be the person I want to be clean cut. There was no hiding or escaping because life is all about taking up the package.

3) Beauty is not defined by your hair
This comes mainly from people around me who think it looks ugly for a girl to have short hair. First and foremost, I may not fit into a short hairstyle, and it might be true that in the common view of 'beauty', I am not looking as gorgeous. However, the journey of getting my hair short and slowly growing them up again is refreshing. It reminded me of how my character and personality is important to shape myself as a person. It reminded me that I can still be a nice person without a nice hairdo. It gave me an opportunity to try the new definition of beauty as well. 

In July, I accidentally cut it too short again and this time, I remembered to get some photo to show you how it grows back. My takeaway was, this is a very good experience. Doing that is like life, you might have to leave what was dear to you yet you had never cherished properly. Then you realize you can start nurturing them again, but you have to bear with the stage when not everyone agrees with you, the awkward wait when it was neither here nor there. You get to the painful mid-range length when it was annoying and irritating because of heat and yet cannot tie them up. And finally, you get the long hair back, which you can bring back to the short hair stage.

A lot of people told me it was very brave to do that. I thought there was nothing brave about that. It was just us being too unwilling to leave our current situation and make a change. Hair is an easy example because no matter how bad it looked, it will grow back eventually (except for some who has different conditions).

Here is how it looked like after 200 days...


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