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New Hair

Almost two weeks ago, I cut about five inches off my hair.

Five inches.

I know that may not seem dramatic, but it certainly feels dramatic. Especially when I wash my hair and realize there’s so much missing.

The truth is, I was just tired of the length. How it blew in the breeze and got stuck in my lip gloss, got caught in the car door, and took forever to dry.

I did like braiding it. And when I did dry and straighten it, it looked pretty great. It felt young and sexy, to be honest. And I felt I’d accomplished a feat of some sort because it was the longest my hair had ever been.

But it just wasn’t me. I’m not high maintenance, and my long hair was. I’m not one to straighten and curl and primp. But that hair required it.

So I chopped it.

And then I felt free, and new, and somehow more me.

But then I missed it. And I looked at the pictures where I’d dried and straightened my hair and thought, “Why am I so lazy?” I went to twirl it and realized it was too short.

Even more, I realized that chopping my hair felt . . . adult. Like a final symbolic move to pass into adulthood. Married for nearly six years? Check. House in the burbs with a dog? Check. Choosing to spend money on a new garage? Check. Getting new sod as a birthday present? Check. Hosted a fancy dinner party? Check.

Yikes. I’m an adult.

I’ve done some research on emerging adulthood—the life stage that is usually between 18 and 30—and I have felt very “emerging,” very in between, as I studied. But something about this past year has shown me that I’m just about “emerged” into full adulthood.

Life stages are hard in our culture. We don’t have any rites of passage. We don’t have clear signs that you’ve arrived, or parties that signify you’ve moved on to the next stage. Adolescence is marked by physical changes, but how do you mark adulthood? Does adulthood require marriage? Children? No debt? Does it require buying a home? Finding a long-term career? Getting a pet?

50–75 years ago, it was a little more straight forward. Most people got married, started families, and supported themselves through long-term careers. That’s simply not the case anymore. Add to that the new life stage called emerging adulthood, which is an extended time of finding yourself, and it gets even fuzzier.

I’m sure when we have children I’ll feel even more adult than I do now. After all, another human will be completely dependent on me. But I have to say, I feel like an adult these days. I feel like a contributing part of society. I feel like I know myself pretty well, that I know and accept my personality and my strengths and weaknesses. I feel like I know my calling. I feel like I have real, adult relationships.

And that is quite a feat. And I commemorated it with a new haircut.

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