Almost one year ago today, I had a transformation. I cut off my hair- 13 inches of it! This was just one of the many contributing changes, but for me it really symbolized a metamorphosis.
I made the decision pretty spontaneously, which was unusual for me, being someone who was very risk adverse and slow to make decisions. Within a week of thinking about getting it cut, I was sitting in a chair in the hairdresser’s with my hair in two pigtails. Apparently I smiled the whole time, even the moment she chopped them off. I thought of Jo from “Little Women,” and how she was a little regretful after she got her hair cut off, but this was not the case for me. That afternoon I excitedly posted an update on Facebook of my new hair cut (I used to be confused about the difference between Facebook and Twitter). I got positive feedback from friends and family. It was risky and a big change, but it was worth it.
I did a lot of life changing things in that one year. It was a turning point for me because I did a lot of public speaking, visiting schools in Japan, Singapore, and the US and inspiring kids to take action for the environment. I did workshops and a TEDx, spoke in classrooms and auditoriums. I went on two 24 hour solos in the woods, participated in an amazing leadership and peace summit, competed in the Intel international science fair, and did a lot of backpacking. I was riding a wave of change. The more I shared my passion, the more confident I became with my project, myself, and my purpose. I started standing up straighter and looking people in the eyes when I talked to them. I finally got my braces off, which made me smile more, no longer trying to hide them. All these changes and experiences encouraged me to become more outgoing and confident.
I can’t believe it’s only been a year because so much has happened. My transformation was so complete that a lot of people who haven’t seen me since I got my hair cut don’t even recognize me.
I’ve learned a bit about change this year. Change can be incremental, so slow that you don’t notice it, like the earth turning under our feet. You hardly notice little changes until they gradually build up. This was the transformational change that my haircut initiated. I think people who are seeking change can get frustrated at how slow this can take. Deep down, change often takes time- like trees growing, or water shaping stone. But this kind of unhurried change is long lasting.
Change also has the potential to be abrupt, like a match struck in the darkness or a tragic accident. Between one moment and the next, your life has to potential to be totally different. This kind of change is not in our control, and most people avoid it when they can because they are afraid of the consequences. I’ve learned to live my life more boldly now, however, and have been more accepting of this kind of change. I’ve learned to love being in the wilderness and pushing myself to physical risks.
I am so excited for the changes in front of me- weeks in Vermont this summer, then on to boarding school for the first time. Change is hard, but knowing that I’m heading into the unknown makes it feel like an adventure rather than a burden.