Ever since Irit Kleinman came back from Christmas break in 11th grade with her head shaved, I have wanted to shave mine, but I was always scared. Always afraid I wouldn’t look good, people would judge me, I’d get fired from my job, my boyfriend would break up with me. You know, rational fears. (*sarcasm*)
On an unseasonably warm day in March, my friend Sarah and I met for breakfast. She is the other pea in my pod, similarly gutsy, fun, and funky. Somehow we got on the subject of haircuts, and one of us said, “I’ve always wanted to shave my head.” (I’m not sure which one of us it was, because it’s just as likely to have come out of her mouth as mine! The other agreed enthusiastically.
“We should do it today!”
“We should do it as a fund raiser!”
“Ooooooo! What a great idea. Let’s do it.”
And a little over 2 months later, I found myself sitting in a chair in a microbrew pub in the town where I live, with a hairdressers cape around my neck, the energetic and upbeat sounds of the Sweetwater Blues Band playing live behind me, a couple hundred friends, family members and strangers blocking the escape route, waiting to see what would happen with the first of 14 people to sit in this seat over the next 2 hours. The buzz of clippers tickled my skull….and red hair fell…to…the….ground.
I looked over at my boyfriend who had a HUGE grin on his face, and he shot me the double thumbs up. Oh good I thought to myself. He still likes me. (less than an hour later, he was in the seat, wearing the cape, feeling the buzz on his skull!)
I needed to take action on this desire, but let me be clear, I was scared. There is no courage without fear. If you’re not scared, it doesn’t take any courage.
Many people said “I could never do that.” And I always want to slap them with a salami and say “Of course you could. You may not WANT to, and THAT is completely understandable, but if you wanted to, you totally could.” I wish people were more clear on that for themselves. Shaving my head was an expression of courage that I wanted to do. Entering a figure competition, running a marathon, and skydiving were also expressions of courage for me….but they’re not for everyone, and that’s fine.
But I digress. Back to my bald head! The timing of our event worked really well with some vacation time, and work with repeat clients who already loved me, so it wasn’t going to have a huge impact on my image as a professional speaker, except for the announcement of me as president-elect for our state chapter of the National Speakers Association, and my attendance of my first National Speakers Association National Convention. I was scared because my hair…my “normal” hair is red, bold, and part of my image, so I was showing up not as the visual representation of my typical speaker persona. Fortunately I don’t have a lumpy head, and I think I look pretty good with no (very little) hair, so my confidence was moderately intact.
At the NSA Chapter meeting, I had to make a speech. I had a great dress on, make up on point, fabulous python pumps, and a necklace to die for, so from the eyeballs down, I felt fabulous. But I was still surprised every time I looked in the mirror. My hair is super short, and not particularly exciting, making me a bit self-conscious, because of course that’s the first thing people see. Even when you don’t shave your head, sometimes this happens. A pimple, a scar or wound, something in the middle of your face that leads the way in all of your interactions with people.
So I stood in the ladies room, staring at my hair internally groaning because I didn’t feel like I was showing up the way I wanted to physically, and then I reminded myself that
a.) there was nothing I could do about it. It was a choice I had made, I’m glad I made it, I would make again, and this was part of it I knew was going to be, and
b.) if I showed up strong on the inside, and didn’t make the hair a thing that stood in my way from being confident and friendly, and interacting intelligently, my hair wasn’t going to stop people from buying into me as a speaker, a leader and a person.
So I held my head high, smiled, greeted people, forgot about my fuzzy head, and did my thing, and it worked. Nobody asked about it, nobody mentioned it, and many people complimented me on a job well done, and said they were looking forward to my presidency. Did someone judge me? Maybe! Do I care? No. I did the best I could, and if my hair is the one thing they’re judging me on, that’s on them! It is the one thing that really doesn’t matter, and that’s been the big lesson for me. Hold your head high, be a kind, intelligent, prepared, friendly, accessible, confident professional, and the little “flaws” (or whatever you want to call them) will disappear. I fulfilled a lifelong desire (bucketlist item: check!) I was pivotal in the raising of $6000 to help local women dealing with cancer treatment to pay for non-medical expenses so they can get back to worrying about the important thing, HEALING! Bonus, we had an absolutely kickass fun party, I learned that my boyfriend loves me for the inside stuff, (which is good, because at 46 years old, the outside stuff is starting to sag!) and my business continues to thrive despite having a bald head…and “bald lady” jokes during presentations always get a good laugh, because I think they’re more uncomfortable about it than I am.)
As you can see, I spunked it up for the big conference I recently went to, and I am LOVING the bleached super short look, so much so, that I borrowed my partner’s clippers yesterday and trimmed it up a little. I just might have to keep it this way for a while!!