On Wanting One Thing But Doing Another

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After almost a decade on the road, my long wavy mane of “doll hair” is no more.

going through change

Year after year, I’d make it back to Maine for a single trim with my hair stylist Heather at Guru Salon & Spa in Portland, Maine, because I have yet to get a haircut as good as hers anywhere I went. I tried, including that one time in a Thai hair salon where half a dozen student stylists were holding different layers of my hair, since they had no idea how to deal with the bushy mass that hangs off my scalp.

This winter, after a season of particularly stagnant life advances, I needed to change something in my life.

Now, as a Xennial (the cusp of Gen X and Millenials), I was raised with a certain aversion to a reactionary chopping off of hair, after my generation watching horror as Keri Russell cut of her gorgeous tangle of cascading curls on Felicity. (Readers of my time, you know my pain!)

Still, having seen my hair transform from long and luscious ringlets to a bit like a hanging blob of ratty lifeless tresses — coupled with this mini-existential crisis of identity and life-path — I knew the time had come.

I spent an [embarrassing] amount of time on Pinterest finding the new shorter cut that would work well on hair that I’ve spent nearly four decades trying to figure out myself. Armed with about 30 Pins and a special request: to cut enough for a donation to a cancer charity (my Mom is a cancer survivor, so it was important to do this if I had enough length with my layers.)

After some quick assessment, we determined my cut would have to be a little shorter than planned to donate, but hey — hair grows back.

going through change

Snip snip snip and the ponytail I’d dedicated over a decade of hairstyles to was gone.

About 90 minutes later (as Heather quipped “Man, I thought with shorter hair it would be easier to cut, but you still have so much hair!”) I was handed a mirror to see the front and the back of my “new head.”

going through change

So, Elisa must be pretty vain, to be sharing this story of her haircut and pictures like you care — am I right?

Well, maybe?

But there’s also a point.

When you’ve been working with someone for almost 10 years (as I have been with Heather) on something that is a piece of yourself, there’s a lot of trust that gets built.

And a lot of understanding.

As with every good hair stylist, Heather and I have spent all these years chatting and becoming friends. I know about her family and friends and hobbies and travel, she knows the same about me.

She knew I was coming in to try to enact some of the changes I wanted to see in my life that I don’t have much control over by severely changing something I could control.

Have you ever been there?

When I told her at the end that I was aware of the cliche I was fulfilling she laughed.

But what she said after is what stuck with me:

“I knew something was up if you wanted to cut your long hair that you love so much; but I also knew this new cut would look so good. Honestly, if it was just a crisis-cut, I wouldn’t have let you do it. I would have said ‘Hey, instead of doing this, why don’t you think on it a few more days, and we can go grab a beer instead.’”

Friends, it is important to have these people in your lives.

Not who will harshly criticize you or constantly try to “tough love” you with fierce rigidness.

But who are willing to speak up and hold you accountable — while still being kind and supportive — giving you the confidence to be your best self.

PS – If you are on Instagram, I’m doing a #30DayChallenge on my personal account. It doesn’t follow some grid or preset plan, though my sister and I did have a fun night sitting down to map out potential content for the 30 days at the end of April (“Remember, if you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – H.K. Williams, not Benji Franklin.) If you want a bit more of a glimpse into my daily life, it’s all being documented there!