Keeping up with my monthly series in 2020 as a slow farewell to AoS, today I’m sharing another letter to myself in 2010, ten years ago. Each letter focuses on one of the different categories we write about here: relationships, community, work, travel, travel, and in the case of this month’s installment, self-care.
Though these are to myself, my hope is that you find a smidge of truth, beauty, and goodness you can apply to your own life — and perhaps this exercise will inspire you to write your own letters to yourself, ten years younger.
Dear Me in 2010,
I first wrote about going gray when I was 37, which is now six years ago for me (which is WEIRD because I still feel 28). We were about to go on our round-the-world trip for a school year, so in the months leading up to our departure date, I decided to grow out my gray hair because I knew I would NOT want to mess with that upkeep while living out of a backpack and not having a home base for a year.
I kept it up for a while when we returned because it was empowering. As you know, I’d been coloring my hair since my early twenties, at first because it was fun but eventually it was to cover the gray that started sprouting at what I thought was unseasonably early.
Well, a few years after our travels, and I just felt… blah. I felt drabby and unkempt, and as I neared closer to 40, I suddenly felt less young and more middle-aged, which weirded me out because I still felt SO YOUNG inside. I’d actually feel somewhat surprised when I looked at myself in the mirror. Who was that older-looking mom in the mirror? Aren’t I the fun person who travels everywhere and lives by the seat of her pants? Why do I look like my favorite outing is Costco?
It was around this time that I also decided to chop off my long hair into a pixie cut, something I always wanted to try because the spirit of the idea echoed the same spirit of going gray — and that is: it’s only hair. If I hate it, it’ll grow back (albeit it’ll take a long time), because hair isn’t permanent. I can always grow it out or cut it, and I can always dye it or grow out the color.
So I did. I chopped off my hair into a pixie, and I went back to coloring my hair. And I loved it. I felt like myself. I’d tell Kyle that for the first time in ages, I’d look at myself in the mirror and feel like I recognized the person looking back at me. It was like my soul wanted a short pixie cut.
Except for a few hesitations here and there, the pixie cut has stayed. I don’t know if I’ll keep it forever, but it’s here for now, and I love the low upkeep for a lot in return. Truly, it’s like I’m made for a pixie cut — I want my hair to look cute, but I can’t be bothered to do anything with it. A pixie cut? Solves that problem.
But the colored hair… thanks to the 2020 quarantine, that’s now almost completely gone. And I reserve every right to change my mind again down the road, but surprising to me probably more than anyone: I really like my gray hair again. I think I’m gonna stick with it for a while.
Getting older is a blessing, not a curse. Not everyone gets the privilege. Yes, our culture applauses not only being young, but also staying young-looking as long as possible. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not what I want to spend my time and energy obsessed with.
There’s a fine line between caring for myself because it helps me feel more like myself, which ultimately makes me a better neighbor, wife, friend, and mom — and obsessing as though it’s more important than it is. It’s fun to look nice, but it’s not all there is.
Right now, I love watching my hair go grayer by the day. It’s fascinating! And I’m eager to see how it looks in another ten years.
You in 2020