I have wanted to be a redhead my entire life. If you look at my childhood drawings, almost every girl has bright orange hair. It has always been an option for me; my parents were pretty relaxed when it came to my appearance and what I wanted to do with it. But I just never took the leap.
A piece of me was afraid that if I dyed my hair, it meant I was trying to fight the way I was made.
You’re probably expecting me to say I had a revelation that caused me to finally dye my hair this year. That didn’t happen. Really, I just came home to a world of complete newness and confusion after the semester ended, and I figured that this time of changes was a good time to implement just one more. So I got a box of hair dye and hesitantly did the deed. My mom helped (i.e., did it for me), because I was still pretty scared. But she’d never dyed her hair before, either, so I’m sure we looked and sounded hilarious. Especially when we misread the directions and dyed only my roots and had to get more the next day. Oh, dear. I’m still laughing about that.
But yes, I am a redhead now, and have been for almost two months. My roots are starting to show my natural color. And I’ve learned a little about what makes me Tessa.
I never hated my hair color, but I never really thought about it enough to know if I truly liked it, because I just knew I wanted red hair so badly. But, the day before I dyed it… I felt a little sad, nostalgic. And because I am much too sentimental, I wrote a letter:
I’ve never hated you. Yes, you’re too heavy on me sometimes, and you love frizz and static, and right now your ends are split;
And yes, as a child I cut you too short too many times, for painful and kind reasons.
But, when you’re long, I feel more like Tessa;
When I put flowers in you I feel lovely;
When you dance in the wind I think of the Lord;
And when you shine in the summer sun, I simply smile.
I didn’t expect this…
But I even like your color.
No one can agree on it, because no one else has it.
I’ve always wished you were a rusty red sheen, and tomorrow we get to try that.
But I didn’t realize just how much I appreciate you.
The red will take over, but it will leave soon.
I’ll be ready to greet you in all your natural glory when you return.
Strange? Yes, definitely. But it still makes me smile a little bit. Because I remember what it was like to finally be struck with the understanding–
I had been so focused on what I wanted that I didn’t realize I was enjoying what I had.
And that’s something to remember in areas way beyond hair color. Dreaming doesn’t mean right now isn’t glorious, too. Enjoy the present, and enjoy the dreams. Both are for you. Both are good.
It has finally connected for me that my physical appearance in no way makes me the person I am. I liked the way my hair looked naturally, but I like being a redhead, too; every time I see my hair in the mirror, it makes me happy. I’m glad I finally decided to just do it, because I know now that I might actually prefer my hair this way. I thought I would feel guilty about that, but I don’t. Because whatever I do with my outside doesn’t make my insides any different. Changing my hair color didn’t mean I was getting rid of anything that made me myself; the make-up of my soul hasn’t changed.
When I’m having a down self-image day, it says nothing about who I truly am. I am a soul. I’ve been having quite a few low self-image days lately, and I’m trying to remember that I shouldn’t treat those feelings as truths. I’m Tessa. And being a redhead is an added joy to my life, and other things about myself are added annoyances sometimes. But I’m always Tessa, in wholeness.
And I’m grateful for the way I was made. Because I was made.
I didn’t know I needed to affirm that to myself; I’m glad I finally have.
I hope you like you. I hope you’re in awe that you have a body that allows you to live here and do things you love, that receives hugs and takes scenic walks and is even capable of sparking life. I hope you feel deep in your soul that your body isn’t you, it’s just your carrying case, the contents of which are beyond valuable. And if you want your case to have some decorations? I hope you know that it doesn’t do anything to change the value or make-up of what’s inside it. I hope you enjoy living so much that your outside looks better to you because of what you hold inside it.
And I hope, soon… you realize you like yourself more than you knew you did.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” -C.S. Lewis