the 27th year

Friday, October 05, 2012


Every year, right around the beginning of fall (and a few weeks before my birthday), I feel the onset of a mild identity crisis. I’m sure it has everything to do with another digit looming over my head, and it’s gotten noticeably worse as I creep closer and closer to my 30s. 

This is the time of the year when I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, pouring over every line and wrinkle in my face in an effort to determine if I am starting to look older. I scrutinize my career choices and feel immense pressure to get off my duff and start perusing what I really want out of life. Then I start to analyze what I actually want out of life. Then I try to stuff down an imminent fear of regret and failure if I don't achieve those things.

And then I start obsessing over my hair like a vain, shallow idiot.

If you look at pictures of me from over the past few years, I can almost guarantee you that my hair changes radically in length between September and October  (with the exception of last year. Last year I was trying desperately to achieve some kind of Rapunzel-esque notoriety). Maybe it has something to do with fall representing a fresh start (the start of a new school year always screamed “New!” to me—new clothes, new classes, new school supplies), but I’m always ready for a change right about now. And the quickest thing to change is my hair. It doesn’t cost much, it grows back, and it’s an obvious way to reflect how I feel about myself at any given point in my life. 

I love having long hair, but it’s been ages since I’ve had tresses flowing down my back because I have horrible hair. My hair is fine, stick-straight and has started doing this really neat trick where a million little split ends stick up all along the top of my head. It seems so much more manageable to just plop it on top of my head in one those obnoxious messy buns that makes Clayton want to walk 10 feet in front of me when we’re out in public. I hate having my hair in my face because it’s just a reminder that the hair in my face well, sucks.
So it’s only natural that I toy with the idea of cutting it off frequently, right around my birthday. 

I’ve yet to muster up the guts to go much higher than an inch off my shoulders, but I have to say, the idea certainly appeals to me. With my type of hair, I know that a shorter, more blunt style would really work in my favor, but I tend to romanticize having long, tousled waves (which is hilarious because even when my hair is long enough, it holds curl about as well as a bucket with holes holds water). Plus, with running, softball and volleyball, having hair long enough for a pony tail is a must. Short hair would always be in my face.

I found this image on Pinterest,
but I can't find it's original sources.
But here I am, sitting at my desk whilst twirling my hair (ironically of course) and staring intently at a picture of a woman whose short hair looks fun, sexy and painfully easy. (Never mind that she probably had a team of stylists spend about 2 hours making her style look effortless …) I’m picturing this very same hair style on myself (brown of course) and adjectives like “cute” and “confident” come to mind. 

And I would give just about anything to feel cute and confident right now.

I think this birthday is going to be harder than any of my previous because 27 will be my official exit out of my mid 20s and mark the leap into my late 20s. The mere thought of being that much closer to 30 makes me break into a cold sweat. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with getting older (I’ve actually heard a rumor that there is nothing you can do to stop that). Rather, I get panicked by my birthday’s subtle reminder that life is moving insanely fast and our time is so limited and so, so precious. It reminds me that I need to stop wasting my younger, carefree years (and when I say carefree, I mean “childless”) by letting my anxiety and other personal demons steal my joy on a daily, continuous basis. I have so much going for me right now, and I need to live in the moment and appreciate that. 

Clay and I will talk about starting a family in the upcoming years and I am so obviously not ready to be a mother (not financially, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally). While one can never fully be prepared to have a baby, I have a lot of work to do on myself before I could even consider being a parent to a precious, innocent life. Another birthday means the gap between myself and motherhood is getting that much smaller, and the window of time for Clayton and I to enjoy only each other is shrinking. (And that scares the hell out of me.)

Why all of these heavy thoughts manifest themselves into a personal debate over a haircut, I have no idea. I’m sure Fraud and Dr. Phil would have a few theories, but my best guess is that my hairstyle is, in some small way, a physical representation of my identity. When you’re suddenly unsure about your identity (or were never really sure to begin with), the look you project to the world becomes increasingly crucial.
That, or focusing on an otiose problem like hair simply takes some focus and attention off of what’s really bothering me. 

Ugh, I am SO drinking on my birthday.

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12 comments

  1. Around the hoidays, I always get really blue because I remember that I have a completely dysfunctional family and there will never be a Christmas/Thanksgiving with all of my family together and enjoying themselves. And really, I should be okay with that because Matt and I get to have intimate holidays together until we have kids to start traditions with, but I can never seem to get over the feeling that because of how messed up my family is, my kids will feel the same way and hate holidays as much as I do. And that breaks my heart. And then I drink alcoholic egg nog until my stomach hurts and wish I had someone to sing Christmas carols with.

    Not so much like your birthday issues but kind of. Just thought I'd let you know you're not the only one who gets weirdly anxious at a very specific time of year. Every. Year.

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    1. Cat, I am so sorry to hear that! What a sad time of year for you. But you're right, at least you have Matt and are able to enjoy the holidays with someone you love ... even if your celebration is small. That's all that matters!

      Our family is similar. I grew up with cousins and extended family, but then my parents got divorced and things got SO SCREWED UP that for the past 10 or so years (I haven't seen my cousins in over a decade), it's just been my mom, sister and I ate EVERY holiday. I haven't spent a Christmas with my dad since I was like, 14, and I do my best to pretend like I don't have a giant gaping void in my life (although, as you can also attest to, giant gaping holes have a tendency to become super obvious around holidays. So we fill them with egg nog and pie. ha ha!)

      I love you, sweet lady. :)

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  2. I can totally relate. As january inches closer I realize that I will be in my last year of my 20s as well as your sister so 30 is REALLY REALLY close for us.... im still not completely settled into my career path and having kids younger didn't help that any of course. So im scared about not having a defined career choice at almost 30..... :(

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    1. I know! It's crazy that you guys will be 30! (Our parents must feel SO OLD.)

      And that's totally a legitimate fear, but Tina, you are doing everything in your power to GET that career and are making amazing strides. Just remember that! It will all fall into place and being a mom to those gorgeous babies is way better than having all the answers about your career, anyway. :)

      And I'm really glad that you and I are in constant communication nowadays. As I said in a comment above to my friend, I haven't seen the extended family on my dad's side in YEARS, and I love that I talk to you a lot and get updates about your life. :) Love you!

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  3. I'm 96 days away from being 29. I need to find a better skin care line. And I need to start running again. And I'm with you on the hair thing. I've been thinking of doing something different to my awful, awful, hair.

    Kids are awesome, tiring, but awesome. But don't kid yourself. There is no financial, spiritual, and/or emotional preparation. But the beauty of it...the beauty of it is the fact that being able to care for our progeny is deeply ingrained in our DNA, in our core as humans. But I can understand the scare factor as well. It goes away when you are able to hold your child for the first time. It all clicks. Cheesy, I know.

    I'm looking forward to the holidays this year. We are having them all at our place. Just Luke, the kids, and I. We've decided that being forced into family functions is just not going to work anymore.

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    1. Oh yeah, I've heard countless people say "You'll never be ready to have kids" and that usually comes immediately after I say, "I'm not ready to have kids." And I know that nothing will ever prepare anyone for what having a baby is really like, but when I say I'm "not ready", what I really mean is that there is some internal work on ME that absolutely has to happen before I can take on the responsibility of raising another human being. I will be a useless mother if I lack my own confidence and self-love.

      And I'm very selfish. It took me a long time to get to the place to admit that I even wanted children, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to prevent it from happening until Clayton is done with school. I'm very much like "This can't happen until A, B and C happens." And I know that God laughs at me when I try to plan out my own life, but I'm really hoping I can tick off some of those goals before I take the plunge into parenthood.

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    2. And that's a good idea fr you and Luke on the holidays. Do whatever you can to stay sane! :)

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  4. I see what you mean now. But, honestly, I've always thought you were pretty darn confident and just a great example of a young, married woman. True story.

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  5. I have hair like yours, too. After an identity crisis, I cut mine off. I hate it. It's made me SO self-conscious and shattered what little confidence I had. While I realize others might say "It's just hair. It'll grow back," I say "Don't do it!" My hair is my identity & without it, I feel lost.

    Whoa, I was totally Debbie Downer on this one, huh? And I just blogged about attitude!

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    1. Ha! You're not a Debbie Downer! While I was driving home on my lunch break today I was like, "I can't do it. I can't cut my hair that short. I will hate it, I always do." So I probably won't. I appreciate the honesty! Trust me, I need people to help talk me out of bad choices!

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  6. Courtney. Listen to me when I tell you, your 30's are WAY BETTER than your 20's. TRUST ME. I had the same anxiety over turning 30, and guess, what? I survived! My birthday is in July, so my sister threw me a Christmas in July 30th bday party & it was a BLAST.

    I also started to stop caring so much about what other people think of me. I realized that not everyone is going to like me, just like I don't like everyone I encounter. I used to be REALLY hung up on that. Like, really hung up on that.

    I gave up trying to have thick, gorgeous hair. I have VERY fine hair, but grow it as long as possible to still try and look younger than I actually am. (I didn't get rid of every hang-up about turning 30;-) ) I also have embraced my crow's feet. Yes, at 32 I have crow's feet. I have 12 years of playing softball in the summer sun to thank for that. Know what else? I think it gives character, and I like to call them my "laugh lines", because although traditionally "laugh lines" are around your mouth, I laugh easily and often, so I say that the lines creeped up to my eyes, too. :-)

    Stay strong, girlfriend. You're right when you say you have everything going for you!! Don't do ANYTHING that doesn't feel right in your gut. Your gut never lies.

    Now. I'm getting ready to go out, b/c like any self-respecting woman in her early 30's, I need some Captain Morgan my blood system.

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