I am sitting at my dining room table with a Russian Imperial Stout, and the world’s largest shower cap on my head, and I think I might be having a pre-mid-life crisis.
This occurred to me as I was doing the task which requires the wearing of this monstrous shower cap — dying the ends of my hair a deep purple. It has been a decade since my hair color was anything even remotely out of the realm of what is considered to be “natural.” But before then, and throughout my entire teenage life, my hair shifted through a rainbow of colors like a prism in the desert at high noon. Wacky hair and funky glasses were kind of my unintentional calling card, since I never meant for them to be identifiers of “who I was.” I just liked bright colors and funky glasses.
Through the years the funky glasses have stuck, but the bright hair colors faded with adulthood, when the corporate career atmosphere discouraged that sort of thing. And, if I’m being honest, I didn’t really miss it. When my hair could no longer be brightly colored, I made up for it with the cut and bright clothes. I moved on.
So, what’s with this goop on my head now? Well, as I was slapping dye on my hair, fretting about getting it on the counters and thinking about all the things I’d rather be doing, I began to wonder the same thing…
This wasn’t even the first time that I’d purpled my hair — this was my re-apply, and it was less than a week from the initial coloring! When I was 17 that might have been fine, but today I have two kids, a full time job, a house to run, and I freelance on the side.
As I was applying the purple sludge to my lightened ends, I began to have thoughts unlike any I have ever had before, at least in relation to my appearance. Thoughts like: “Does this even look good? Do I look totally ridiculous?” (Don’t get me wrong, I think people, of all ages and walks of life, look amazing with brightly colored locks.) For the first time in my life, brightly colored hair did not make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I am a really low-maintenance gal. I like to keep it simple and I feel as though I look like I’m trying too hard. Shit. Am I trying too hard? My 30th birthday is this month. Coincidence?
I haven’t been consciously worried about my impending 30th birthday. The truth is that I feel better at almost-30 than I have my entire life. I feel surer of myself, more confident in my own skin. I don’t outwardly feel like I am going through any kind of crisis about turning 30, but does that mean that I’m not? Maybe subconsciously I am a total basket case. Or, as it occurred to me, maybe I am just able to see and accept the parts of my evolving adult identity that I’m okay with shedding.
I’m not saying that it’s not cool to be 30 with purple hair, far from it. I think being any age with any color hair is totally cool. All that matters is that you feel good in your own skin and for me, having stand-out hair didn’t make me feel like me anymore. I can let go of Funky Hair Me, because age has made me more confident in the evolution of my identity, in elements both tangible and intangible.
So, as I sit here waiting for the dye to set, I acknowledge that this will likely be my last re-coloring of my purple locks. When this round of Manic Panic Purple Haze begins to fade, I will take myself to the drug store and buy a nice box of chocolate colored brunette hair dye — the closest thing I can usually find to my natural dark ash brown.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to not look the way I looked at 19. I’ve also learned that, even though I’m totally confident in where I’m at in my life at almost 30, I might still be a little subconsciously worried about this age milestone, and that’s cool too, but perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that identity, like everything else, is in constant flux, and self-reinvention is always at your fingertips. How refreshing is that?