I’d been thinking about doing something different to my hair for a long time. I love my hair. It is pretty long and soft, cascading a third of the way down my shoulders. I also play with it a lot, mostly when I’m thinking about something or when I’m bored. It serves as what bubble wrap serves for others: something mindless to do.
However, my hair is very thick. Due to this, it gets tangled quite frequently. My mom has been suggesting for a long time that I should get layers put into my hair. Layered hair is known to get tangled very rarely and overall gives any hairstyle more body and drama.
I would always thank her for her advice and promise to consider it the next time I went in to get my hair done. However, I never did anything other than getting a basic cut to trim my hair’s dead ends.
This summer I spent a lot of time browsing on Pinterest, looking at pictures of cute layered hairstyles and slowly becoming more frustrated with how hard it was to handle my hair, I decided to get layers put in.
My reasoning was relatively simple: it was summer, so I wouldn’t be on campus every day or be seen by a lot of people since COVID-19 has been keeping everyone inside their houses anyway. This helped me because if I did not like how it turned out, I could just stay inside and grow it out again.
With that in mind, I made the appointment at the local salon, told the hairdresser what I wanted, hopped up into the chair, and braced myself. Everything was fine until she made that first drastic cut. The scissors closed around my hair, and with a distinct hiss of metal, I heard a loud snip and I watched my hair flutter to the salon floor.
My stomach dropped to the floor along with the strands of my hair as the hairdresser continued chopping away. I gritted my teeth and maintained a neutral expression. But my mind was like a hurricane of thoughts and emotions.
Oh goodness, what have I done?
It didn’t have to be this drastic, Belen.
You could have played it safe and just gotten a trim again. At least you are used to that.
What if this looks awful? It won’t look the same on you as in the magazines, so don’t kid yourself.
After she finished cutting my hair, which was wet at the time, she brushed it all back and blow-dried it, combing it and occasionally checking the length. When she had finished, I almost gasped. It looked amazing!
For the rest of the day, I could not stop gushing to my entire family about how much I liked my new haircut. In the following days, I told friends about my new hair, still equally excited. Everyone loved it, although I’m not sure if they liked my hair that much or if my excitement was just contagious.
Anyway, this story is not about how good my hair looks now. Well, it is not JUST about that.
For people with anxiety, repetition is safe and comfortable. We order the same dishes at restaurants, buy the same kind of clothes, and rarely try anything out of the ordinary for us.
I believe that this is how anxiety manifests: the fear of the unknown, dreading something in the future, some looming unknown variables. People with anxiety have a ton of good ideas, all of the time. We just talk ourselves out of doing any of them before anyone else knows about the idea.
They also do not like letting people know that they are considering trying something new, because their friends and family will encourage them to do it.
“Why not? That would be fun!”
“You should try it! What is the worst that can happen!”
This flurry of encouragement and urging often has good intentions but can overwhelm and confuse people with anxiety, causing them to internally shut down and not consider this new idea again.
Of course, this is not anyone’s fault. It is just another little-known symptom of anxiety. For those of you like me, who have anxiety but still really enjoy trying new things, you are probably wondering how to stop yourselves from automatically shutting down the desire to try something new and different.
I would say that the best advice I can offer is this: don’t obsess over it or dwell on it. Look into what it would take to do this new thing, and when you could do it if you felt so inclined.
For example, if you think that maybe you would like to try parasailing, don’t just discard the idea even if you are feeling a little hesitant. Instead, set aside time to research. When you research, look up local places to try parasailing, the cost of a session (or whatever it is called in the parasailing world), and what kind of gear you would need and the best time of year to go.
As you start to look more into this new thing you want to try, your interest will probably grow and you will become more and more set on taking that plunge and going forward with it. As a general rule, when doing research, do not look up what you are anxious about. Don’t sit at the computer and type into Google “How likely am I to die while parasailing?”
Instead, look up broader, more positive questions.
“What is parasailing like?” or “What should I do as a beginner to parasailing?” or better yet, find people’s personal accounts of their experiences and listen to how it felt, how it went, and if they would do it again.
Don’t just stop and abandon the idea once you get one negative message that says “OH MY GOSH PARASAILING IS AWFUL AND I ALMOST DIED FOR REAL.” If everyone decided not to try something after seeing or hearing about one negative experience, no one would ever try anything and we would all be like the Cowardly Lion from Wizard of Oz!
I guess my closing message for my fellow anxious explorers out there is: don’t dismiss an impulsive idea just because you are not 100% sure about it. Most of the time, we are not 100% sure about anything! That’s part of the whole anxiety thing!
Think on it, research it, and give it a go.
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Until next time!