I was invited to a cool Halloween couple’s costume party last fall. While I used to dress-up as a princess or Minnie Mouse when taking the kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood every year, it had been awhile since I attended a grown-up party that required a costume. Up for the challenge, I thought my husband and I could go as Joy and Anger from the movie Inside Out. Simple. Creative. And my husband was happy because he could wear short-pants.
But I couldn’t find a short hair blue wig that worked and the blue hair color spray I found at costume stores wasn’t authentic enough. I had always wanted to dye my hair so I thought I’d do it right for the party and went to the professionals for assistance.
Four hours later I walked out of the salon with brilliant, bright, big as day… blue.
Very authentic. And very…permanent.
What the hell was I thinking?
Someone asked me later (when Halloween was over and it was obvious I was going to keep my hair blue),
“What the hell were you thinking?”
And I wanted to say:
I was thinking it’s just hair. And I’m lucky to have some flexibility since I’m working from home during this period of my life. And that I’m not getting any younger. And dying my hair bright blue seemed pretty ridiculous for an 80-year-old, so I should probably get it done now while I was only 44. Because it seemed pretty silly to ever regret such a small thing like never dying my hair blue. And also – hello…. it’s just hair.
What I actually said was:
I know, you’re right – I’m crazy.
And it’s possible that I am. Just a bit. But here’s the thing. Living life out loud with blue hair for several months was pretty eye-opening. Because every day. Every. Day. Someone stopped to give me a compliment. At the dentist. At Target. In the drive-through. In waiting rooms.
People with piercings and tattoos and people in business casual clothes. People with law and medical degrees. Young people and old people. People who act and sing, groom dogs, teach school, crunch numbers, work on cars, own companies….
People I might not have ever met otherwise would stop me and say things like, “you go, girl or I love it” At a convention in Houston a very conservatively dressed professional came over to me after the speaker had stepped off stage and said, “I couldn’t stop looking at your hair – I had to come over and tell you how awesome it is.”
An older man stopped me in Home Depot and asked me, in the sweetest way possible, if I had dyed my hair to match my shirt (I hadn’t noticed when I got dressed that day, but it was exactly the same shade) and we both laughed. And someone else hugged me. A total stranger. Which was a little different. But actually, not awful.
But other people stared. And some kids pointed. And it was clear that there were those that did not like it. At all.
Which is ok. Because when you put yourself out there, you have to accept both the good and the bad. And kind of stop taking yourself so seriously. And have a little fun.
Admittedly, the first week I was a little out of my element. My husband, Ed, and I went to a restaurant for dinner and I looked around the room and noticed that no one had blue hair except me. When I mentioned my observation to Ed he was confused. “Ummm – right. Did you not realize that before?”
I guess I hadn’t. I know a lot of people who have pink or purple highlights so it didn’t really occur to me that it would be much different to dye my entire head of hair.
I panicked – what the hell WAS I thinking? I realized that my brown hair kinda went with everything and my new blue hair clashed with several of my outfits. After all, blue hair isn’t an accessory you can take off when you have an important business meeting and then put back on when you are going out for dinner with friends.
People who already knew me, knew the kind of person I was. I love Jesus and I adore being a mom. I don’t sell drugs or steal and rarely lie (well – there was that time I couldn’t go to jury duty). But sometimes I would see someone who didn’t know me look at me and pass judgement. And sometimes, sadly, people who knew me did the same thing.
I decided to Embrace Joy
The second week I decided that I needed to own it… embrace it 100 percent or just dye it back to brown. You can’t really walk around with bright blue hair and be all second-guessy. I needed to be confident and not apologize and maybe stop calling myself crazy so much.
I decided to embrace “Joy” for a little longer than a day.
Blue hair gave me permission to take risks. Not crazy risks. But get out of your rut kinda risks. After you dye your hair blue, ordering something different at a restaurant when you normally get the same thing because it’s a “sure thing” hardly seemed like a big deal at all.
And then something funny happened. Once I embraced it… I forgot about it. And life kind of went on. I still struggled with helping my son with Algebra and I worried about my weight and I dealt with anxiety. I worked and packed school lunches and went to book club.
I caught someone staring at me in a doctor’s office last week and I thought maybe I had a booger on my face. It didn’t even occur to me that it might be my hair.
Here is my challenge to you
1. When you’re out and about – compliment someone. Tell a stranger you like their hair, or their dress or their boots…especially if you can tell they took a risk and put themselves out there. Receiving a compliment from a stranger is a pretty amazing thing.
2. If a friend takes a risk – acknowledge it. You don’t have to like it, but tell them you admire their courage. Not saying anything… says something.
3. If you want to try something new, do it. Don’t let fear of what other people think stop you from living your dream.
Disclaimer: Before I dyed my hair blue I asked my immediate family members (my kids and husband) if they were ok with it. I wanted them to be comfortable with me and any questions or ridicule they might get from friends (and they did). My daughter said, “Go for it – you only live once” and my teenage son shrugged his shoulders and said, “Do what makes you happy” and my husband told me…
It’s just hair.
P.S. Yesterday I dyed my hair silver.
Thank you to all the professionals (especially Shannon, Hiliary and Carolyn) at Sheri Marie Salon who take good care of my hair and make me feel pretty.
Guest post by Jennifer Patrick. Jennifer Patrick is a freelance writer who lives in Houston with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. She loves DIY and craft projects, reading, running and traveling. You can read about her adventures on her blog, Still Living The Dream, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Skimbaco Lifestyle is for nomadic trailblazers, fearless founders, rebel leaders and people who live life to the fullest.