I cut 10 inches off of my hair recently. Something I've never done, it's been short before but not in one sitting. There are many things cutting my hair made me realize, all things I would expect a hair cut to teach me: hair is just hair, it grows back, I am not as attached to it as I thought, it feels alive and fresh after years of feeling dead and it feels really good to donate it. Little lessons. Then there was one big one. One really big one.
I arrived to teach after my hair was freshly cut and styled. I felt amazing. It looked amazing. I haven't felt that new in a long time. Every student I saw had wonderful things to say, every student except one. She turned the corner and gasped. Her face was horrified. She grasped at the air where my hair use to be. I couldn't joke my way out of her shock. She wasn't please. She liked my hair long and curly, the way it use to be.
My feelings weren't hurt, I honestly didn't care. People have opinions and my opinion was that I liked my hair, so it was good! What that interaction left me with was shame. Deep, shocking shame.
How many times have my family members made decisions and my response was shock, horror. I disagreed with their decision, I wouldn't have done that, therefore it was wrong. How many friends have dated boys I didn't like, or moved places I wouldn't? How many people bought something I'd never buy and my reaction was disapproval? How many people have I made feel this way??
Most decisions people make don't have direct lasting impacts on my life. Some decisions do, yet do I have any right to make them feel wrong? To disapprove with their choices? NO. NEVER. What I decide to do with my hair is about me. It's a reflection of me and only me. What my family members decide to do with their lives, my friends, my co-workers, their decisions are THEIR OWN. Not mine.
At the end of class, the student told me she loved my hair, and has since then told me again. But I am thankful she didn't love my hair because it shifted my "just a hair cut" view, into a life long lesson. No one in my life needs my approval to make choices. As their friend, sister, daughter, wife, or granddaughter my job is to love them and respect their choices. I am reminded over and over that while we are so similar, we are all walking different paths. To some, 10 inches of hair can mean a new wig, to others the loss of something cherished. Neither is wrong, both are right and neither have any reflection on me.