The one constant in life is change, so why is it at times so hard or scary?
Sometimes the change we experience in life is amazing:
- You get a new job
- You are moving into a new house
- You’re getting married
- You are becoming a parent
All exciting (sure a little scary) change.
On the flip side we have changes that are difficult:
- The loss of a job
- Loss of a loved one
- Changing your hair
Yes, that last one says changing your hair…hear me out.
When I was a baby my mom taped bows to my little bald head because I was often mistaken as a boy. Once my hair started growing in, not until I was almost 2, I just let it keep growing and growing.
I have had long hair, basically my entire life. That is until I was 21, I decided to make a change as I was entering a new phase in my life and I cut my hair off. It was a cute, short, spunky cut; but I felt like I was missing something as soon as my hair hit the floor.
I felt as if I had cut off a part of my identity and who I was. I didn’t feel free or empowered, I felt naked, vulnerable and sad.
“Change involves a period of adjustment and uncertainty. It can be hard and scary, but also amazing and beautiful!”
According to the British Journal of Sociology, hair is a symbol of individual and group identity – powerful first because it is physical and therefore extremely personal, and second because, although personal, it is also public rather than private.
It took me a few weeks to embrace my impromptu cut at 21, but I started to adore it and was loving the money I was saving on shampoo! However, I began growing it out after a few short months because longer hair just felt more like, “me”.
The decision to change your hair during a transition period in your life, whether it be a positive or a negative transition, can symbolize a new start, but what if that change is not a choice? For the past 20 years I have had long hair, so when my hair began falling out three months after my separation, it was a change I didn’t choose and I wasn’t ready for.
- Pre-contemplation: This is similar to the first stage of grief, You just simply aren’t ready for change. You don’t want the change to happen, you don’t see the benefit, you are too afraid of the unknown. This might be a change that is your choice (like choosing to quit smoking) or a change that is forced upon you that you didn’t get to choose.
- Contemplation: You are getting ready. You recognize that there could be value in the change, you are no longer 100% opposed to it. You begin to weigh the pros and cons and are looking at how the change could be beneficial (or embracing that it is inevitable).
- Preparation: This stage is about planning. Realizing it’s going to happen (whether you like it or not) so here you go. A vision board could be super beneficial during this stage.
- Action: It’s in motion, change is happening. You’re doing it!
- Maintenance: You’re staying in action mode! You’re living it. You keep moving forward.
Just like the stages of grief, when change is happening in life, it is common to go back and forth between these stages or even go through these stages more than once.
Change involves a period of adjustment, uncertainty and sometimes distress. I love what author Robin Sharma says, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end”.
After my hair started falling out, I was upset that I was being forced to change, so I invested in hair extensions. I was in denial and for the last year and a half and I have been living in the pre-contemplation change stage, until this past weekend…I was ready for stages 2, 3 and 4! (I never said the stages of change were always quick!)
This weekend I said goodbye to my hair extensions and hello to my shorter hair. It was the first time I’ve seen myself with short hair since I was in my 20’s.
I know that short hair vs long hair might seem like a small change to some. But to me, it’s a big change. Long hair has been who I identified with and I was scared of changing that after having experienced so many other unexpected changes in my life over the past two years.
Resisting change is natural because there is fear of losing something of value, not being able to adapt, or not liking the outcome.
I’m not insinuating that the change in my hairstyle was as difficult as many of the challenging or unexpected changes I have experienced in life. It’s just one I happen to have a before and after photos of at the moment.
I’m not saying that I won’t ever get hair extensions again, I’m not saying I won’t ever dye my hair blonde. What I am saying is that I had a lot of fear about changing my hair, but when I got my extensions out, it felt like I was ripping off those bows that were taped to my bald baby head and yelling, “I don’t GAF if you call me a boy, this is me!”
The one constant in life is change. Accepting the changes that we “choose” are certainly easier than ones we don’t, but there is something empowering about embracing those changes that “life” just chooses for us.
Remember, You Got This!