When I was in fifth grade, a friend asked a friend who asked a friend who asked a boy I was crushin' on if he liked me. By the time his answer got back to my innocent ears, the message was broken down to its most basic, sans bullshit: No. Why? Because he thinks you're plain.
The fact that he didn't like me was not as alarming to me as his reasoning: my apparent plainness. What did that mean exactly? My imagination went wild. Was it my hairdo? My large, round glasses which - in my defense - were what all kids in the early 90s were sporting? Did I walk funny, or laugh funny, or talk funny, so that he found my overall person to be plain? What made me, this interesting, unique, quirky, chatty, freckled, lively (in my mind) fifth grader, plain??
That assessment of my personhood has undoubtedly haunted me on and off for years. And it's resurfaced at the most random of times, usually when I'm doing something I consider rather bold and NOT plain. I've laughed with glee while repelling off a cliff in Maine: haha, plain, take that! While hitch-hiking in Hawaii in a multicolored dress I've giggled at how opposite of plain this must seem. I've picked outfits, and friendships, and life paths often times to reject the notion that I am, or could ever be, plain. It's taken on a life of its own, a persona, this part of me that could be - but desperately doesn't want to be - plain.
But, like many people who live in the world full of other humans who can choose to judge you or applaud you, I can't help but worry at times about what people really think of me. When I am seen on the street, do people grimace or smile?
So despite my personal rebellion against plainness, I've edited or modified things that I'd really like to do, in order to not stand out too much or risk being mocked for something I did. It's a shame I can't embrace the rebellion more fully, it's a shame I worry and wonder how people see me. But alas, I am human. And a sensitive one at that.
But I've been bored lately. And I have a blog/life project to work on.
So yesterday I went to the hairdresser and said: Do something different. My hairdresser was giddy. She's been wanting me to go beyond the definition of myself I've chosen for the two years I've gone to her and gotten basically the same haircut.
So she gave me a severe bob, and some trendy, severe, "baby bangs." At first I worried I looked like someone from Star Trek or that one stooge. I just looked in the mirror and laughed and laughed and laughed. So much so that others in the salon began to look my way, concerned. I couldn't believe the face I saw in front of me. It was me, but a little more quirky and fun. A little more full of humor and glee. I felt I looked crazy dorky, and I liked it. Honestly, I was somewhere between my four-year-old self, and the grown woman I strive to be. Which is about right.
Then I realized she basically gave me the haircut I've wondered about for years, but been too worried or insecure to try. She made me (more or less) Amelie.
It's a choice to be the person we want to be. The only way we risk becoming the person we fear, the person we are scared people think we are, is if we resign ourselves to that fate. I'm only as plain as I choose to be.