I’ve discovered something about myself in the past six months, although I have a feeling the issue has extended back much further than that. In short, I struggle with combining – or perhaps acknowledging? – different aspects of my personality.
I don’t just run; I need to be A Runner. I love having a decorated, comfortable apartment – but when I’m feeling outdoorsy, it isn’t enough to GO OUTSIDE and do things. Nope, I need to get rid of all those things that made me so happy and proud only a few months ago, to clear space and go minimalist so there are no distractions from the view out my window. (It should be noted that the latter is my parents’ decorating technique and it drove me absolutely insane during the last few years I lived at home. Plus my views aren’t nearly as good as theirs.)
Strangely, the one area where this has never fazed me is my education and career. I’m the girl who majored in civil engineering and minored in English without batting an eye. I spend my days buried in technical drawings and hanging out with a field crew that is 99% male, and come home to write romance novels for fun in the evenings. And yes, some of them do end up with the occasional damsel in distress.
Lately, some of this blase approach seemed to be translating to the rest of my life. I’ve gotten rid of half my decorations enough times to know that I’ll replace them in a few months, so they can be tolerated. The things that really bother me are evaluated for longer than 30 seconds. Sometimes they really don’t fit my lifestyle anymore – but it’s not because I just found an awesome article about minimalism on Pinterest.
Then I got my hair cut, and everything I’d made peace with came up again. To be clear, nothing specific changed about my hair. It was a trim, and not a single guy I work with could tell me the difference if held at gunpoint. The impetus was, as it always is, the salon environment. I know it’s coming, since I specifically picked my hair salon to also fulfill my bi-monthly pampering needs. Complimentary glass of wine while I read your $10 magazine? Don’t mind if I do. Head and shoulder massage followed by a paraffin dip for my hands? Please.
But. When I specifically bring a dress and flats to work so I don’t have to go in wearing my typical polo, jeans, and boots, I can’t help but feel a bit like an outcast. This leads to walking in feeling like I have a neon sign over my head, flashing lots of nasty “un” words. Unfeminine. Unladylike. Unworthy. My hands are too rough. When I sit in the chair, I’m not used to keeping my knees tight together, and the full-length mirror in front of me is quick to point that out. Did I actually shave the side of my knee? How fat are my thighs, anyway? And oh my goodness, what do I say to the infinitely more stylish person peering over my shoulder and asking what I would like done? “Please do something with my hair that makes it look good and takes less than ten minutes a day to style. And whatever you do, do not cut it too short to go up in a ponytail.”
Luckily, this is the point where I get a head and shoulder massage, and by the time we move to the shampoo chair I’ve remembered why I keep coming here instead of finding a place where they don’t look twice at steel-toed boots. Either the stylist or I have managed to bring up something we have in common – cats and weekend plans are usually good – and I’ve mostly forgotten that my toenail polish has needed a touch up for about three months. It’s not exactly comfortable, but I at least feel like a girl who resembles my normal self.
I think it’s getting easier every time I go in. Or maybe I’m just more likely to remember leggings and close-toed shoes next time. Progress!