Deadweight.

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I have very large, very bold, curly hair.

I’ve had curly hair all of my life, and it’s always been thick, and I’ve always worn it curly (until recently).

Recently I’ve been frequently straightening my hair, and I’m not really sure what prompted me to other than coming home for Christmas break from a first semester college experience that wasn’t too great and wanting a change.

I’ve liked wearing it curly the older I’ve gotten because I know how to style it and it distinguishes me from other people. People come up to me and say I should be thankful for my hair, that they wish they had it, or that “I bet you just wish you had straight hair – well, be thankful you have this gorgeous, thick curly hair.”

When it’s curly, it’s easy to pick me out of a crowd. If I ever show up somewhere with it straight, people, even my friends who’ve known me for years, do double-takes.

My curly hair defines me.

But I think that’s actually the problem, at least the last few months.

I cut my hair shoulder-length the beginning of freshman year in high school, and that looked terrible so I never felt confident in my hair. Once I reached senior year and figured out how to style it, I started falling in love with it again, and there was a period of time I didn’t even want to straighten my hair.

It was mine, it was me; this is who I am, Emily the curly-haired chick. And for once, I’ve been confident in that.

Whether you realize it or not, we’re seeking things that’ll boost our egos and confidence, and for me my hair has been one of the biggest ego-boosters. We want to know we’re accepted by other people or that our appearances, our personalities, the entire framework of me, myself, and I, are liked and appreciated. So for me, my ego is boosted when someone compliments me on my hair or says I’m beautiful, particularly strangers, because I thrive off of that. I think I like hearing it from strangers more because it’s someone who doesn’t know who I am as a person, but they see my outward appearance and find it appealing.

Most girls are like that, where we place incredible emphasis on our appearances, but even some of my friends have noted I get hung up on the attention of others and what they think of me.

So I’m beginning to realize this unhealthy addiction to the attention of others and placing my validation in the hands of people who have no idea how to handle it and abuse it anyway because they were never meant to hold my validation. 

Hello.

Your validation was and will never come from another person, not if you sleep with them, not if you work for them, not if you live with them or eat with them on the weekends or drink with them at night.

 

And sometimes it’s not people.

Sometimes it’s ideals.

Like emphasizing your purity/abstaining from sex or drinking because that’s what you were taught in church, and if you do anything immorally wrong, you’re damned and judged by both God and church.

Like sleeping from person to person because your need for intimacy, though valid and innate, is overwhelming you and for those brief five minutes or five months of a messy relationship you have someone who sees you and knows you and accepts you.

Like stressing over your GPA or scores or overall academic career because someone or yourself have told you if the numbers don’t represent an unrealistic standard of intelligence, you’re going to make less money and be unsuccessful. 

And we get caught up in these unrealistic standards of how we think life is supposed to be or what we’re entitled to and we forget we were never created to live in a two-dimmensional box with ninety-degree angles of legalism. If a truck rolls you over, you’re going to feel it in third-dimension and all. But see when your mind exists in a two-dimensional world, you’re already flat.

Hello.

So going back.

My curly hair defines me, and really taking it a step further, my hair in general. Since I straighten it more frequently, I realize how long it actually is – if I arch backwards, my hair touches my butt.

Nothing’s wrong with that, clearly I like my hair or else I would’ve chopped it off a long time ago.

But in the moments I’ve considered even cutting it, I have literal panic attacks because I’m afraid it’s going to look bad.

All of my friends say (I should move on…*inserts musical notes*) if I were to cut my hair, it’d look great and I have nothing to worry about. But because of my unrealistic standard for how my hair is supposed to look, if anything were to ever deter from that, I’d probably lose my mind.

Case in point, last year for prom I went to have my hair done and asked for my hair to be straightened and then curled with a curling iron (ironies when you already have curly hair tho). “According to my stylist,” my hair wasn’t going to hold curling iron curls because my normally curly hair has already been flattened.

So he proceeds to straighten my hair haLF WAY, leave the top half this sort of weird in between my regular curly hair and what’s been blow-dried straight, and says he’s done.

And I lost it.

I came home crying, and what’s worse is that’s the second time I’ve had my hair “styled” for prom by the same company and it was completely messed up.

What got me was again, second time in a row, I restyled my hair, re-straightened and re-curled, and it. was. fine. It stayed wavy the rest of the prom night.

Can’t hold the curling iron curls.

Right. What are these, sir?

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(This was taken this past weekend. I’m still salty.)

My point is, the degree to which my hair would look good or bad was going to seriously affect the rest of my night, and I think that’s scary applicable to me currently.

I’ve been growing my hair out for over five years, and I really do love it. But 2016’s arrival reminded me I graduated over seven months ago, and I’m not the same.

To my high school seniors, be prepared to change a lot in the next year. Maybe for some you’ve already started changing, or maybe freshman year won’t be the year for you to see dramatic alterations in who you are and how you look. But for the majority of you, you’re going to start thinking differently. You’re going to, if not already, start questioning the world and why you do what you do.

I’ve changed.

Anyone who knew me this time last year can vouch that I’m not the same person, and truthfully I’m completely fine with that. I still look back unforgivingly on my past when I’m reminded of who I used to be and cringe, but I think we all do that. I think we all want some considerable distance from who we once were, and whenever we see or talk to someone who reminds us of that, we have this automatic stereotype attached to them, not because they aren’t nice people, but because we’re reminded of who we no longer are or want to be.

I met someone a few months ago who reminded me too much of myself, and the more I started seeing similarities, the more I distanced myself from the person. Honestly that’s a trend I see in several of my friendships, where I create distance between who I was from who I am now based on my relationship with a person.

that’s not healthy, but I feel that no matter what age, we are always going to be carrying some form of baggage from our pasts, from when we were 8 or 12 or 15 or 18 or 22.

Deadweight.

Baggage that no longer serves any purpose other than to remind us that we’ve changed but we can’t let go of what’s happened to us.

We walk in this state of victimhood and our feet know that turf too well. The path’s weighed down from footsteps that have walked it before us, burdened with their own bags and bad memories they, just as much as we, wish they could chuck over a cliff. And here we come down that same path with our luggage, driving deeper ruts into the dirt.

The relationships you nurture now are products of relationships you’ve had in the past. How you interact and communicate, how well you trust the other person, how you view yourself and them, are all influenced by events that’ve happened in the past. And the issue is when you begin projecting those fears on future relationships. Yes that bad relationship you had where the boy cheated on you and somehow continues to break your heart months or years later is valid, those feelings and brokenness are real, and sometimes the wounds will just become scars you bear for the rest of your life. Yes it’s up to you how much power that past relationship gets, how long you think on it and let the ghosts reside in the attic of your mind.

Sometimes to stay alive you’ve gotta kill your mind, yeah? (TOP)

But our issue is when we don’t kill our minds, when we don’t take captive those ideas that are destroying our presents and futures by simply being there and becoming deadweight.

Love, you’re carrying too much on your shoulders. You’re letting a boy from the past or a girl you can’t get over keep you from forming healthier relationships with people who are just as great as them – don’t get caught up in thinking she’s just the only girl. In the words of the Killers, “she’s just another girl.” 

It doesn’t have to define you; it doesn’t have to define me, and yet here I am even wearing my deadweight, on top of my head.

/ / /

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Hello.

When you don’t know how to respond when your friend lays the truth on you. I’m pretty sure I audibly said “dang” when I read her message, but it’s so true, yeah? For me my hair has become a symbolism of my youth, of my past, of who I was, and sure that can sound a little dramatic – it’s just hair – but the reason why a lot of girls chop their hair off or change something drastically about their appearance after a breakup is because they feel like they’re getting rid of that deadweight. They may not be able to get rid of the deadweight on their hearts for the time being, but they’re trying to do something that will outwardly show they’ve changed.

I’ve grown my hair out for five years, and I’ve been dragging an accumulation of compliments behind me in a giant suitcase that I’m now letting go of, not because I have to, but because I see something different inside of me.

I’m not who I was five years ago.

I’m not ridding myself of deadweight physically because I need the change; I’m getting rid of the physical deadweight to symbolize how I’ve changed. That I’m in a new season of life. That despite my rollercoaster of unfaithfulness, God has remained faithful to me and incredibly patient.

That I’m a new person and I’m learning to walk in a state of freedom instead of a state of victimhood.

You’re only a victim to your past if you choose to be. But there’s a key to get out; the door is open to freedom. You just have to stand up, be a little brave to shed the deadweight from your shoulders and skin and head, and leave it behind. Walk away from it. Don’t look back.

Sometimes that means leaving six inches of hair on the floor.

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