In case no one knew my hair is brown, dark brown. It’s just curly, brown and for the most part difficult to manage. I blow dry it straight almost always, not for any particular reason other than that I’ve just grown accustomed to seeing myself with straight hair since entering my twenties and I look just a little bit older which helps when you look like a preteen and you’re trying to hustle in your career or whatever. If there’s something I’ve wanted to do to my brown curly locks in my lifetime is have a particular lovely shade of ash blonde with golden highlights (think Jessica Alba, who has been my patron saint of hair for decades). I was born an ashy blonde baby, and I’ve wanted that hair colour ever since. Genes decided otherwise, and over the years, my hair has gotten darker and darker until I’ve achieved the naturally dark chocolate shade I’ve got going on now. Here’s the thing, I never quite gave up on my Jessica Alba hair dream. Year after year I would pine after this hair colour in the hopes of achieving this ashy blonde perfection. At sixteen I did my first set of home highlights… correction, my first set of erratic at home highlights. But for me, these brassy yellow patches were good enough to satisfy me with glimpses of “awesome” blonde hair each time I looked in the mirror. By the time I turned eighteen I had done significant damage to my hip length curls, and even though I looked like the perfect beach bum, my hair was done for. I had to colour it dark and in the following year, chopped off most of it. By age nineteen I had sworn off hair colour for good, and for the next five years I would stick to that vow religiously. It wasn’t until another great picture of Jessica popped up on my feed that I thought: “how great would that hair colour look on me? Look at her! We are about the same skin tone, we have similar features, I can do this!” and so I took the plunge in Barcelona and added a few unsuccessful highlights. Later that year I added a few more, and then chopped my hair off, and got rid of them just like that.
Top photo: the infamous Jessica hair. Side photos: Me and my natural hair color that I’m learning to accept.
2015 comes around, and I woke up one day thinking: “I’m getting older, nows the time to make a change, to look more grown up, this time you got to take the full plunge, do the Jessica colour, do it!”. Every good hair stylist I know, both in England and the U.S. had warned me, they had all told me I had a great natural hair colour and that I shouldn’t risk dying my hair, they told me my hair was so healthy I shouldn’t dye it. They warned me that any discoloration would wreak havoc on my curls, but all I could think was: “everyone dyes their hair! Why can’t I?. I envied the numerous women I saw with balayage and ombre (the good kind), I wanted to see multiple beachy tones in my hair too. I wanted to look like Jessica! And so after some research I went with the ridiculous idea of going to a “natural” hair salon, with “natural” dyes. “It won’t damage your hair” they said, “you will look great and natural” they said, “your hair will be even healthier than before you dyed it!” they said… well, needless to say this wasn’t the case. About eight hours, four coffees, and three arguments over how much developer they needed to use on my easily lightened hair, I was left with a brassy mess of splotchy yellow. I was forced to dye my hair darker three days later, and six months later even darker and chop off about 3-4 inches. Last year I chopped my hair the shortest its been since I was a child, and even this week I was cutting the last remains of overgrown damaged dyed hair. There’s a point to this story, and that point is this: hair dye is not for me. I simply can’t dye my hair, I just can’t. My hair doesn’t tolerate it, it splits the second chemicals hit it, it falls out from the root, it simply hates dyes. I can’t “balance out” my hair tones, or add “dimension” or whatever they call it. I can’t have the Jessica hair I want, I simply can’t. All these years I have been insisting on something fervently, that I truly and honestly cannot have because it just isn’t for me.
I’ve realized that I’m a custom-made person, I have custom tastes and accommodations. There are things that I need in my diet, in my lifestyle, in my relationships, that virtually no one else I know needs. I have come to the realization that my life isn’t going to be like anyone elses’ life, but more importantly that not everything in life is for me. Maybe most people colour their hair, but I won’t be able to without suffering horrific consequences that I don’t want to deal with. Perhaps everyone enjoys a good wine with their meal, maybe they even say it is good for you but I can’t tolerate it. Perhaps people recommend eating a diet of heavy veggies and leafy greens, guess what? My stomach hates that type of diet. I think life becomes easier when you stop thinking that your life and your reactions to it have to be the same as everyone else. This week I had an opportunity which didn’t work out for unjustifiable reasons. I’ve been crushed about it to say the least, but at the same time I’m trying to see this as another Jessica hair attempt. An attempt at making something fit for me because it fits for everyone else. I think society teaches you that there’s this age mould, a pattern that everyone needs to subliminally adjust to. I’ve narrowed it down to, the crazy drinking college years: 18-23. Figuring out your life, establishing a career and getting engaged and/or married: 24-27. Having your entire life together and possibly bringing another human into the world: 28-33. You are now the godfather and must know everything and have every single aspect of every molecule in your existence perfected: 33+ sounds about right. But what if you fall behind? What if somewhere between the crazy drinking college years and the figuring out life section you somehow tripped on the rock of unexpected events and things just didn’t turn out the way you were “supposed” to have them turn out, what then? I think that’s the part most of us get stuck at, including me. That’s where we are really hard on ourselves and we figure that we are failures, but are we really? Time isn’t really as strict with us as we are with time and with ourselves. But that’s a hard concept to get past.
I think just like I realized that hair dye, despite it being something I like and wanted, wasn’t for me; instead I’ve realized that as much as I like dying my hair, having it be healthy fits me better. There are many other things in life that don’t work out, which also aren’t for me. There are so many opportunities that have failed in my life, and in the moment I never see why they had to fail, but now, I see that they weren’t for me. At the core of who I am is adventure, is travel, is flexibility, and yet so many of the opportunities I’ve cried over missing have been opportunities that would set my life on a completely different course. Most of the time those opportunities would have me set, stable, and sitting at a 9-5 job living a pretty normal life. I have had to ask myself if I’ve ever truly wanted that. I don’t know who is reading this, but maybe like me, there’s something that isn’t working out for you. Maybe nothing is working out for you, perhaps like me, you have to search deep down and really ask yourself what you want, and see if maybe none of those things that you want are really for you. When I say for you, I mean in favour of you, beneficial for you. Not everything we want is good for us, even the “good” things. Right now, as I’m sitting here sipping my Swedish blueberry tea and reminiscing about better times in Stockholm, I can’t help but think that anything that hasn’t worked out, was probably going to keep me away from the things and the people I really loved. I am telling myself that I haven’t failed at life, and life hasn’t failed me, but perhaps not everything is for me and that’s okay.