Day 45- The Last One

Easter Sunday is tomorrow, the day when we rejoice the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and celebrate forgiveness. The day that Lent finishes. But I know that my journey does not end with Lent. I have learnt so much over the last 45 days. There have been good days and there have been bad days, but I suppose that’s the point. You need the bad days to appreciate the good ones, and when the bad days get too much, that’s when you need to ask for help.

I have learnt that when you have a buzzcut, it is of paramount importance to only use a tiny bit of shampoo, otherwise the suds get in your eyes and it stings SO MUCH. I have learnt that a dramatic haircut can leave you feeling constantly cold, especially if you happen to live on the fringe of the Arctic circle and it’s the middle of winter (dipstick.). I have learnt that humans are extremely tactile, and love to touch new hair. And that short hair is INCREDIBLY easy (I’m talking 1 minute to wash and dry your hair people!). I have also learnt that what my body can do is so much more important than what it looks like.

I have learnt how many associations society has with certain hairstyles, and how damaging it is that we have those associations. I have learnt that as a woman, society has forced upon me a very strange relationship with hair, and that I needed to breakdown this relationship and start again by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I have learnt that perfection is a dangerous, unfair concept, and that Jesus was the only perfect human. And that being gracious matters more than being graceful.

I have learnt that the majority of the time when I feel judged, it’s all in my head because I project my negativity. I need to stop judging people in order to stop feeling judged. I have learnt that contentment and love is the key to all of this, and that it is our differences that unite us as humanity. This unity and love has shown me that I can depend on people, and that they fuel my own love and strength.

Most importantly, I have learnt that I am more than just my hair. My worth does not lie in what I look like. I have more self-confidence and strength than I could ever have imagined. My worth lies in the fact that God loved me so much that He died for me. That’s amazing. And that fact leaves me with a never-ending capacity to love, and an assured hope that He has a plan so there is nothing to be afraid of.

I suppose I kind of already knew all of this one some level really. It just required some reflection, thought and a bit of an extreme change to realise that I knew it.

So there we have it. That’s the story of the year that I gave up my hair for Lent. I’m kind of worried now though, because how will my next Lenten sacrifice EVER live up to this?!

Day 45- The Last One

Day 43- You’re gonna grow it back now right?

Truthfully, I don’t know yet. I can definitely see myself growing it long and shaving it for charity for the rest of my life, but whether I’m going to keep it short for a while now, I haven’t decided yet. I’m just going to roll with it for a bit.

What I love now though, is that when I look in the mirror, I see so much more than what is there staring back at me. I don’t just see a reflection like Mulan, because I know that the way I look is not who I am. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see someone whose confidence and ability to love has grown exponentially over the last few weeks. I see someone who has started questioning why we think in the way that we do, and looking into why these thought processes need to be changed. I see someone who is free, and pursuing a life where she tries not judge others and tries not to mind when others judge her. I see someone who is working towards total contentment. I see a feminine young woman. I see more of myself than I have ever seen before.

I’ve learnt to accept compliments, and ignore insults, but to not put too much weight into either because ultimately the way that we look genuinely does not matter. The way we feel affects the way we look, and the way that we feel is just so much more important. And right now, I can honestly say that I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.

I shaved my head for me. I shaved my head so that I could learn about where my self-worth lies and how I define myself. I shaved my head so that I could learn to depend on God. Today, right now, I feel that I have definitely been successful in all of these things, and at the moment I love my shaved head because it reminds me of this every single day.

Day 43- You’re gonna grow it back now right?

Day 42-Mulan

Mulan is my favourite Disney film for two reasons. Number one…the absolute choon that is “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You. Number two…the incredible theme throughout the film and the song “My Reflection” about the struggle between who you are, who you want to be and how you are perceived. It is a film about coming to terms with who you are, celebrating who you are, and not being afraid to be the “true you”.

When will my reflection show, who I am, inside?

I have FINALLY realised that it won’t. I can’t look to the mirror to find out who I am. I need to look to my friends, my actions.  I need to look into myself. I need to look to God.

Day 42-Mulan

Day 41- Fear

When I think back to deciding to cut my hair, fear was the thing that would have held me back. Fear of what people would think, fear of what I would look like, fear of how I would feel. Cutting my hair has helped me to let go of my fear for four reasons:

  1. People are generally nicer than we think or give them credit for. The media wants us to believe that “catty women” and “spiteful men” are always tearing each other down, and I’m not naive enough to think that this doesn’t happen. However, this is NOT the rule. If I assume judgement and unkindness, these things become true for me and how I interpret others’ actions, and thus can even become self-fulfilling prophecies. However, if I assume love, kindness and acceptance of others, then I approach people differently and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. People are going to make assumptions of me based on how I look, and that’s ok, because I make assumptions of people too. But I need to work to breakdown my assumptions, and that will in turn help others breakdown their assumptions. I know that these assumptions aren’t true, and I have become confident and secure enough with how I look that I don’t mind if people make assumptions because they don’t define me. How I feel affects how I look, but how I look should not affect how I feel, because how I look (and the length of my hair) does not change who I am.
  3. Not many people know this, but I suffered from depression a few years ago. I underwent treatment, and made it through. But I was TERRIFIED that shaving my head might send me back there. It hasn’t. Yes, there were bad days, but the good days far outweighed them. And more importantly, I made it through those bad days. It has proven to me that it is definitely possible to beat depression, and that I don’t need to live my life in fear of it, because if it does come back, I can make it through again.
  4. I have an amazing network of people and a phenomenal God on who I can totally, entirely and utterly depend. I am not on my own because I am loved and because I love.
Day 41- Fear

Day 39- Trust

Since it’s Palm Sunday, today at church the sermon was about the Easter story. And the thing from the sermon and the bible reading (John 18 v1-11) that stood out to me most was that God was in entire control that whole time. Even during the darkest times when it might have seemed like His plan was going wrong, He was totally in control. It was all in His wonderful plan for humanity.

It made me realise the change in myself. Learning to trust God throughout this whole process for me has been quite the experience- trusting that shaving my head was the right decision to make at the time, going through with it and starting this journey. It’s so easy to tell myself that God is in control, to repeat the mantra that it will all be alright in the end, and don’t worry because it is in God’s hands. But to truly believe that and live it out is difficult. It’s silly because I should spend my time marvelling at the fact that I am able to leave all my worries with God, but instead I have always spent my time stressing about the future, and what people think of me, and whether I’m doing the right thing.

As I’m nearing the end of my degree I have so many questions about what is to come next in my life- where will I live, what will I do, who will be my friends. And I don’t doubt that I will have these questions for a long time to come. The difference is that I now have the assured confidence that I will have the strength and know-how to get through whatever comes my way. Over the last 39 days I have begun to appreciate God’s sovereignty within my own life, and with that has come a great sense of peace. His plan is more amazing than anything I could imagine, so what do I have to be anxious over? I have learnt to place my worries in his hands, and to just live and love.

Day 39- Trust

Day 35- Grace

My name (Anna), means grace. When I was younger I thought that this was a cosmic joke, because I am horribly clumsy and aged 7 chose karate over ballet. However, as I’ve grown older I have realised that there are two types of grace- the type that makes you graceful or elegant or dignified which is the one that society often unfortunately focuses on, and the type that makes you gracious or merciful or kind.

Both of these are definitely attractive qualities, but one is related to how we look and one is how we act. In my opinion, my long hair made me look graceful, and therefore feel more feminine since gracefulness is often associated with femininity. I thought that cutting my hair might make me feel less graceful, and thus less feminine. But, because I found out early on that my qualities are not linked to my hair, this hasn’t been the case.

What my haircut has made me realise though, is that being gracious is a lot more important than being graceful. Graciousness is the most beautiful thing that a person can have, and it always stems from love. Being gracious is a choice. I can choose to be gracious and loving, or I can choose to be judgemental and jealous. Sometimes it’s an unconscious choice though, which is why it is important to find the root of jealousy or judgement. Most importantly, having grace means always freely and readily forgiving people no matter what. This is probably the most difficult part of graciousness to live out. I need to work on this because it’s by God’s grace that I am forgiven, so why should I ever withhold forgiveness since I am no better than anyone. It’s through God’s love and grace that I am saved, so its through my own growing love for everyone that I should try to always be gracious.

 

Day 35- Grace

Day 34- Comfort Zone

Everyone deserves comfort in their lives. But there is definitely a difference between having comfort and being comfortable. I think that being too comfortable is when the trouble starts, because it makes me lazy (or indifferent as the Pope put it).

When I’m too comfortable in the house, I don’t mind the  dirty plates and dusty carpets, and they are more likely to stay that way. When I’m too comfortable in my prayer, I continue to pray the same mundane things, and thus not actually say or achieve anything new in my relationship with God. When I was too comfortable with my hair, I wasn’t pushing myself to ask why I had certain perceptions or associations, and I certainly wasn’t challenging myself to become less jealous or judgemental.

Mostly, I think that when I get too comfortable, I stop reflecting, and reflection is definitely a key part of personal growth. I stop thinking about others when I’m too comfortable because I’m doing just fine, and so I forget that other people might not be. Reflection isn’t celebrated to the extent that it should be in my society, that’s definitely something that I’ve realised.

Being uncomfortable all of the time, as I was for at least the first two weeks after the chop, really forced me to reflect and think. That’s why I had so much motivation at the start of this blog, when I was so full of new insights and ideas. But that motivation has decreased as I have become more comfortable with my haircut, and thus have reflected less. This isn’t a bad thing, because I am definitely a more loving, less judgemental person now than I was before. But I need to be sure to not get too comfortable, so that I don’t go back to being indifferent in the issues that I have raised and learnt about over the last month.

In order to strive to be the best possible, most loving version of myself, I need to push myself and my boundaries, and make sure that I am not too comfortable . I need to challenge myself, others and society to be as loving as possible, because there is definitely enough hatred in the world already. And on the days when I don’t want to do these things, I need to remember that it’s ok to take a day off, because everything is in God’s hands. But it’s when the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, that I need to start to look for, and pray for, ways out of my comfort zone again.

Day 34- Comfort Zone