On Bad Hair Days


It was one of those times you ask a question and you are totally floored by the response. I was a senior in high school getting my hair cut a couple of miles from home. My shoulder length hair and the way I styled it had become overly plain for me. I was tired of it and I wanted something new. So I asked. "What kind of hair would you recommend for me other than shoulder length?"

"Nothing," she said.

Wait wait wait wait.

"Nothing," she repeated. "Your hair is so thick, it would be bushy short and unmanageable long. You're going to have to keep it shoulder length all your life."

I wanted something new and exciting and instead I got a life sentence.

I never went back and on that day I was determined to prove she was wrong. 

*****

Long hair has always been good to me in all those years since. I can truly say I went a full decade without a bad hair day. Hair not working for you one day? Pull it into a pony tail, wrap it on top of your head in a bun. Braid it. It's hard to go wrong.

Truly the only complaint I have from the last several years is that it is hard to get a fresh new look. Every time I go in for a trim, the instructions are the same. Keep the length, just cut off the dead stuff. And when I come out, nobody bats an eye. And so then I come home and keep doing it the same way I have been doing it for weeks and months and years.

In January, I finally snapped. I wanted something new, something different, and since I like the color of my hair, it was going to have to be the length that I played with.

I told my friend and hair stylist that I wanted to my hair to be as short as it possibly could while still falling in the long hair category. So she took it from tickling my elbows to a couple of inches past my shoulders. 

She styled it and it looked fantastic. This was a good move.

And then a couple days later I washed it, and I was on my own during the styling process. When I was through, I bore a dangerously close resemblance to my senior class picture. And I panicked.  And I put it in a ponytail.

That had to be a freak accident, I thought. But the next time I curled my hair, I got the same results. And I cried a little. And tried really hard not to resent every woman in public who had hair cascading down her back."My hair is just as long as yours... in my heart!" I wanted to cry.

I cried the next time I did it, too. It finally occurred to me that the difference between the way I was doing my hair and the way my friend had styled it in the salon was that she had curled it away from my face, and I was curling towards it.

A few years ago, I mastered the art of curling hair with a flat iron. It takes a special flick of the wrist and when I'm done, not even I know how I produced a spiral curl with that flat-plated contraption. Somehow I was going to have to reverse the process so that the curl twisted the opposite way in the end.

I was pretty sure it involved standing on my head, but I would figure it out.

And I did.

*****

As I looked at myself, crying in the mirror over my hair last week, words from Elder Holland's talk, Like a Broken Vessel, echoed through my mind.  "When I speak of [depression], I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion."

I knew I had made a pretty significant recovery from my serious bout of depression the day something trivial made me sad. I don't even know what it was. But I remember I was in the living room of my grandparents' house, living there while they were on a mission. 

Maybe I found out I could have gotten more money back for my text books. Maybe some plans I had been looking forward to had been cancelled. Whatever it was, I sat there, disappointed. And then the way I was feeling sunk in. And joy overwhelmed my soul.

I had never been so grateful to be sad. It was a regular kind of sad. The fact that healthy, normal feelings like sadness, frustration and irritation were registering inside of me again was extremely noteworthy.

On that day, a bad hair day would have been reason for celebration.

Isn't it amazing the way the things that happen to us in this life can completely change the way we look at things?

Or which way we curl our hair. ;)



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