Catching the breath

Sometimes in life you just have to get a tattoo and then buzz your hair in one weekend. Just me? But in all seriousness, just moments before writing this my roommate took out her shaving gear and hacked away my hair. Just yesterday, a needle stabbed me thousands of times, permanently putting a meaningful message into my skin. For a very long time, my body, in my mind, felt like something that belonged to someone else. Something that didn’t belong to me. My mind was just encased in flesh that kept me sustained and alive. More accurately, it belonged to the man who would sweep me off my feet.

A year and a half earlier, I had abandoned the false fairytale I was force-fed and have moved on to what feels so much more like me. The first thing I did when I let go was change my closet. I got the clothes that I wanted to wear and always felt too afraid to wear. I let go of the femininity that I thought I always needed and embraced the androgyny that I had always wanted. Yesterday I got the tattoo that I had thought about for an entire year. I let go of my fears about permanence and the unchanging nature of something and got a big forearm tattoo. And tonight, I let go of my hair. It was something that I had held onto for a long time trying to get used to keeping it long and then trying to get used to having it at all.

So what is the point of that story? I could layer on the cliches and make it obvious, but I think beating the reader over the head with metaphors and messages is unneeded. Letting go of what we thought we should be is one of the hardest things that we can do. There are so many opinions we get in our life from all angles: from the media and the news and our friends and our family. We get up in the morning and those views dictate how we behave and what we say. Eat healthy, work out, keep your body slim, your hair to this length and trim, your clothes in this style and for this occasion. Everyone seems to have an idea about what you should do and you just have to decide which ones you listen to. But if this weekend has taught me anything, it is that once in your life you need to do everything you have always been too scared to do.

Perfection and acceptance is a fleeting thing. There will always be something that you could do better, something that would bring you closer to the ideal. We chase down nonexistent concepts of what a person should look like, talk like, be like. Our lives revolve around a hierarchy and embedded in the quest for bettering ourselves is the message that we should dislike who we are. Sometimes you just have to let go. Sometimes you have to just listen to the expectations that you have for yourself. Stop holding your breath and taking up less space just to listen to people who might not even matter in your life. Get a tattoo and buzz all your hair in two days, throw out your clothes and smile because there is so much more to life than the person the world thinks you should be.

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