This is an email that I received today from a friend. A fascinating personal tale. I thank her for sharing…
People I meet these days, many of whom I was well acquainted with in the past 10years, don’t recognize me.
Why? Well, for a some years before during and after my divorce, I was a blonde. I mean really blonde with hair past my shoulders that I paid to have colored and highlighted every five weeks. All in all, I’m guessing I was blonde for about 7 or 8 years during what some might term the peak of my social and professional career days in my mid to late 30 (and early 40s, ahem). This was my identity – the busy blonde attending every community and board meeting (usually in a leadership role), launching new ideas and products, networking at fundraising and business events, and growing my consulting practice. A Tipping Point “connector.” Nowadays, since I’ve returned to being a natural brunette, no one ‘knows’ me anymore. Was my hair color really that significant?
Well, in fact it was. I was using the blonde to escape being who I was inside. I was hiding from the awareness that I was in a tough situation, and as long as I looked good, I was good – at least to those who knew me from my facade. However, it was a near constant state of anxiety about keeping my roots from showing, buying products to keep my hair healthy, and trying to live up to blonde expectations of being so bubbly. I began to wonder if people were attracted to me because of who I was, or because of who they assumed this blonde could be.
In the end, when I had come to realize I was pretty awesome no matter who I was married to, what ‘club’ I belonged to, or what job I was doing, I no longer needed to be blonde. I realized what was important to me in terms of saving money, what little things I needed to bring a smile to my face and sleep well at night, and who I felt like inside and out. Now, as the brunette I was born to be, I’m happy being me. As a blonde, I was a person, but I wasn’t me. I grew up and now I own me, my identity doesn’t. Life is a blast, and there’s no second guessing. Except, of course, when I run into those people from my past who do a double take and say, “Do I know you from somewhere?”