Friday, September 2, 2016

Journey towards Understanding

"My goodness, why is your hair so long?"

"Wow! How long did you take to grew out your hair to this length?"

"Isn't it troublesome, taking care of such long hair?"

"How long do you intend to grow your hair?"

Questions that I usually got asked when my hair was long. I wouldn't say that my hair was immensely long; many people have got longer hair than mine. But I guess people were curious mostly because they don't have many friends who have long hair, waist/butt-long hair I mean.

This isn't the first time I kept it this long. In fact, growing my hair out has become a method to set milestones for myself -- a reminder of how long I've been in my present stage of life. Six years ago, I decided to cut my hair short, right before entering uni for my degree. Halfway through my studies, I'd decided to keep it long, you know, just to see how long I could keep it for. Towards the end of my studies, I figured, well since I've had it for this long already, might as well keep it until graduation. Who knows how long it will take before I'll have such long hair again.

After that, I'd decided to pursue my MSc, and one day decided to chop my hair off because my hair was getting quite heavy and it was giving me neck sores. So off it went.

Some asked me why did I cut my hair off. Some thinks that it's a shame, chopping it all off after years of growing it out till my waist. Some liked my look better when I had long hair, but some complimented how young I looked with short hair. Either way, I just did what I felt comfortable and what I think it's best for my well being. And it was time to get rid of the baggage that I was carrying: the good and bad times that is beginning to weigh myself down, memories that my hair reminded me of, memories that I'd like to let go once and for all so I can move on to better things.

I really liked my long hair though, and on contrary to what most people think, long hair is actually more manageable/low maintenance compared to short hair, at least for me it is. There's less fuss of where the ends of my hair will curve towards, because the natural wavy hair has its own 'romantic' theme going on, but a messy short hair with its ends going everywhere is an annoyance. Nevertheless, short hair saves me time and resources; I don't have to spend much time nor use much shampoo to wash it. And it's lighter on my head so no neck-sores is always a plus in my book. 

You might or might not understand it, but what I realize about something as trivial as hair, is that although it doesn't seem like a big deal, it can actually affect the way you look at your life. Subtly at first, then gradually shapes your personality. Perhaps for you, it's not hair, but something else: clothes, watches, the way you do your make up, or the one pair of shoes that you've been wearing to everywhere you go. The things that you don't realize that you've grown so attached to that a deviation from how you usually experience that one thing, would change you as a person. Long hair is great, and very manageable and versatile, but when I cut it off and settled in to my short hair, I just felt this sense of freedom and lightness. And that made me a happier person in an instant. I suddenly wanted to go out, whether if it's to a mall, or just a walk around the neighborhood with my dog; I just felt this rush of liveliness in my blood. What I needed was spirit. So spirit is exactly what I got.

You may say, it's probably in my head, and you'll probably be right. It IS in my head, and what's in my head stems from the actions I took after consulting and thinking it through in my mind. Though I do understand if you mean to say that it's probably a one-time thing, chopping off your hair and having a different perspective to life. So I repeated my experiment: I grew out my hair for two more years and watch how life goes by and how I experience it.

What I find, is that as my hair grows, I grew more and more aware of the time I spend on one thing: my MSc, and this awareness, coupled with financial struggles, wore me down. First year went fine, I was working my hardest trying to complete my studies so I can graduate as soon as possible. Then two years went by, and still I'm in the same spot, doing similar things, finding myself getting more and more lost by the day: what am I doing, why and I here, what is all this for. So I tried doing other things; tutoring, business, make up, art. But they all took time, they all took lots of effort and left me feeling helpless, because if they don't work out, how am I supposed to support myself, and pay my school fees? For a moment there I got weak; I wanted to give up. Research is not an easy line of work, and I just got to the point of finding out just how tough it is. I don't think I'm strong enough to fight this battle. I don't know how to fight this war. The neck-sores are starting again. Everything feels heavy again. 

I was about to give up; I got really close to the exit door. Then I took a step back and realized that life is not meant to be perfect, it's not meant to go the way you planned. It's okay if I can't finish my studies in 2 years, maybe I just need a little more time to do more, do better. I've also realized that whatever hurdles I came to, I've always jumped pass it when it's time to take the leap. I've never really failed. So really, what I needed is to pull myself away from everything and look at the bigger picture. Put everything into retrospect. I may not be the person who graduates and makes RM2-3k per month, like many of my friends who are already well into building their careers, but what I have nurtured and compiled over the two years is knowledge of different industries and a better understanding of myself. It's not something that I can put on the table now and say "Look mum and dad, aren't you proud of me?", but in the long run, I know I'll be one of the minority that survives the apocalypse. So I stop micro-managing and over analyzing thing. I stop over-caring. Then I chopped it off once more.

Something as trivial as the length of your hair shouldn't dictate how you live your life. But how you choose you live life is shown by how you present yourself as a person. In my case, I choose to be free, and to care just the right amount. Not too much, not too little.