What They See Vs. Who You Are

I have many Sarahs in my world…how did that happen?  🙂

A girl named Sarah writes a blog that I read regularly, Walk Slowly, Live Wildly.  Sarah dreaded her hair one year ago.  She lives outside of the mainstream in many ways, but recently I’ve been thinking about her dreads.  My hair has stopped getting longer.  I think this is as long as it gets.  It gets dry and split at the ends, and I get it trimmed, and it’s an inch shorter for awhile and then goes back to the same length.  And not because of the trims, because I haven’t gotten it cut any more or less often over the last couple of years, and for awhile it was getting longer by the month, and now it’s just the same.  That’s not a bad thing, because I have such baby fine hair that it looks better shorter anyway.  I guess I just love long hair because it feels so girly and pretty.  In my imagination, my hair looks long and thick and beautiful, until I look in the mirror and realize that it looks flat and has no volume whatsoever.  🙂  Growing it long doesn’t make it thicker!

Do I want dreads?  No, I do not.  I would love to have such easy hair care…wash every few days, put in ponytail when it gets in the way, use headbands or beads for fun.  How simple!  Right now, if I do my hair the way I want it done, I do this: wash, condition, put in mousse, blow dry, curl, curl some more, curl some more, hairspray.  And it looks nice for an hour, and then it looks flat and stupid again.  So most days, it ends up to be this: wash, condition, put in mousse, let dry or blowdry, maybe straighten the front curlies, put in ponytail.  Still more work than dreads!

But here are the reasons that I feel I can’t consider dreads:  I don’t know anyone in my real life who has them, and I am not a very good pioneer of new things.  I don’t know what they will look like on me.  It takes at least a year to get them, and that’s a long time for a hairstyle that I don’t even know if it will look good on me.  I don’t know what parents, administration, and other teachers would think of a teacher having such a stereotyped hairstyle.  What if I were ever interviewing for a different job?  I think people would look at the dreads and not really notice whether or not I would be a good addition to their teaching staff. 

The bottom line is, I don’t really like dreads enough to put them on my own head, even if all of the above reasons weren’t true.  But the fact that those other reasons are what I think of first reveals some issues.  Do I care too much about what I look like?  Do I care too much about what other people think of me?  Do I worry too much about the future, and fail to trust that God is taking care of it?  I’m pretty sure all three answers are, YES!

What you look like is a symptom of everything else that goes on.  Attractiveness is just as much an indicator of how happy and fulfilled you are as it is how well you take care of your physical health.  I think we rely on outward appearance to make up for things.  I feel that I need to look a certain way and dress a certain way because I’m not confidant that someone would see my value through my outward appearance.  Of course there are certain things we have to follow, like dress codes for our jobs.  But why do I hesitate to make the outside reflect who I really am on the inside?  I want to blend in, I don’t want to stand out.  So I hide behind an appearance that I’m working very hard to make acceptable to others.  It goes right along with caring too much about what other people think.

For me personally, I don’t know what I would do differently to the outside.  I would still wear makeup, because I think doing makeup is fun.  I actually might experiment a little bit more with different colors and stuff.  I would color my hair more dramatically.  The highlights I have now are nice, but I want something even more interesting to look at.  At the same time, I would let my hair do it’s natural crazy wave thing most of the time, rather than fighting it with a blowdryer and a curling iron or straightener every day.  I would love to find a haircut that would compliment my face shape and the crazy waviness and baby fineness of my hair.  There are occasional days when doing my hair is fun, and when I have time to kill I always like to do someone else’s hair.  But most days, doing my hair is not fun, it’s a chore.  I would also love to have one of those little nose jewels, I don’t know what they’re really called, a piercing right on the side of your nose with just one little sparkle.

As I read that last paragraph, I realize it reflects everything else about me.  I love uniqueness, finding things that I like even if someone else may not.  I like changing, doing something different tomorrow from how I did it today.  I like putting myself into what I’m doing, rather than just blindly following a plan or a trend.  Look at how I am decorating my new apartment, or how I choose the books I want to read or the music I listen to.  Look at how I run my classroom, for crying out loud!  My very self goes against this desire to blend into the crowd.  I don’t have one red wall in my living room because I want people to remember it, nor did I choose it because it’s like other apartments.  It is there because I like it, because it looks so much different from the other rooms, because it’s more interesting to look at than just having four white-ish walls.

But that fight with the desire to fit in is very real.  Case in point…I do yoga.  I started doing yoga in college.  I love yoga.  Not too many people who read this might know that about me.  Or you might, I don’t know.  I don’t hide it or anything.  But I’ve never taken an actual yoga class.  I’ve only done what I’ve learned in books and videos, and this awesome Oxygen network yoga program that comes on at 5:00 a.m.!  I really want to learn more about yoga, so why the hesitation to take yoga with real people?  Because people in my “crowd” don’t do yoga!  Because there are stereotypes about yoga that it’s somehow religious, that it would make me less Christian, that if I do yoga I have to eat tofu and wheatgrass, and “om” every morning when I wake up.  (For the record, I have no idea what wheatgrass even is!)  But it’s easier just to not pursue it, to “be” that person that people see. 

The thing is, I already AM that person who takes yoga and has crazy wavy multi-shaded hair and a nose sparkle.  If I weren’t, I probably wouldn’t have a red wall in my living room!  The fact that I am hiding under flat, two-shades-of-brown hair and an unpierced nose doesn’t change who I am.  It makes me wonder how many other people are hiding under an appearance that doesn’t reflect who they really are.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    Jan 27, 2008 @ 00:42:08

    I think you’re fabulous, yoga-ing, no nose piercing, and all. 🙂

    And, this may sound strange, but I’ve heard of using Mane and Tail shampoo as a volume builder and remedy for people with thin hair.


  2. Trackback: Skin Deep « Dawn’s Place

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