I am exactly the person I once was


Me, looking crusty as usual in the hoodie I refuse to leave.

The person across the room is undoubtedly me. It’s me because of my long hair, which is either in a ponytail or hanging down. It barely conceals the short, choppy, fuzzy hair coating the nape of my neck—the remnants of my rebellious summer hairstyle. I am more than likely wearing a hoodie and some black yoga pants, or maybe jeans and a T-shirt.  My normal, minimal amount of makeup attempts to hide anything that breaks the uniformity of my skin. 

The tiny holes in my ears are either empty or lightly filled with a small pin of an earring. The exact pair of shoes has been swapped out many times over the years, but I am still wearing my classic Adidas tennis shoes. Filling these shoes are my feet which have black Nike socks stretched over them—as always. 

Nothing about me is new.

Years ago, I was bored with my typically straight hair. I put a few waves in it and set off for school that day. The response was perplexing and made me question how uniform my sense of style was. Every other person I knew who passed by me responded with “your hair!” or “did you curl your hair?!” 

I still cannot tell if these responses were positive or negative. The majority of my peers changed up their style every day, yet adding a few lumps in my hair got me more attention than it would have if I was facing expulsion.

Every time I try, I get scared; I stop curling my hair, I throw the tank top back in the drawer, or I scrub off the eyeliner.”

After a few weeks, I stopped curling my hair.

My cheeks redden whenever I think of this phase. Why? Why did I choose to curl it? My life with straight hair was perfectly content; why would I throw a wrench in the plans?

Months ago, I bought a cropped tank top. I have yet to wear it outside of my own house. I bought two sizes to make sure one would fit. They both did—physically, at least—so now I have two cropped tank tops. Two cropped tank tops are sitting jumbled up in a drawer, collecting dust.

Sometimes I slide it on and admire myself in my bedroom mirror. I don’t look like myself. Instead, I look like a confident high schooler who has a social life. Whenever I hear the footsteps of another family member, the top is promptly returned to the drawer. I am embarrassed by the overpriced piece of cloth. It doesn’t match my personality at all.

Days ago, I got liquid eyeliner. I don’t even know how to use it. It is currently sitting in my makeup bag, having been used only unsuccessfully. It’s too noticeable. On everyone else, it looks great; on me, I can only feel fear of attention being drawn to the black like sunlight.

I don’t know how to change myself, not even a little. Every time I try, I get scared; I stop curling my hair, I throw the tank top back in the drawer, or I scrub off the eyeliner.

I tried again.

I bleached a small section of my hair. Not too much, not too noticeable, not too original. For days, weeks, and months, I was pleased—I looked different, but still felt like myself. I didn’t feel stupid. It’s noticeable if one is paying attention, but if one is just passing by it becomes absorbed into the rest of my frizzy strands. 

Unfortunately, I am being sucked back into the loop of attempting change and then regretting it once again by the massive vacuum of my self-perception. My hair is brown, and that’s how it always has been, so the blond piece is out of place and irregular. I am beginning to want to dye it back.

I feel safe in my modest style. There is little room to be harshly judged, whether it be by peers, or more likely, by myself. I may never reach a noticeably unique style, but I am just as happy in my own because, in the end, it is mine, and truly me.