Monday, January 27, 2014

The princess with the long hair

Walking to work this morning I was overcome with the realization of how long my hair has gotten.

When people comment on it, I like to tell them that I haven't cut my hair since 2011. I don't know why this has become a matter of pride for me. It's like I'm basking in the split ends, taking all too much pleasure in the long tresses that, when I'm sitting down, nearly brush against my bottom. People say things like, "Isn't that a lot of trouble to deal with?" The long hair that takes hours to dry certainly does seem a burden.

Yet I still grow it out.

So this morning, as I pondered the hair which has certainly grown far too long, I began posing questions in my head. Does my long hair say anything about me? Does it have any significance in my life? What does it say about the years since 2011? Does it say anything at all?

Then, quite serendipitously, a song went on amidst the shuffle of my iPod.

The lyrics were these:

I've got my mother's love,
I shouldn't ask for more.
I've got so many things
I should be thankful for.
Yes, I have everything
Except, I guess, a door.
Perhaps it's better that I stay in,
But tell me when will my life begin?

I'll save you the time it takes to Google a song lyric by telling you that these words come from the first reprise of "When Will My Life Begin?" in Tangled. The song, which did not appear in the final film, is one of my favorites from the soundtrack for its simultaneous hopefulness and melancholia.

Tangled is an interesting movie in that it follows a new formula for a Disney female protagonist whose primary aim does not involve finding Prince Charming. However, it still fits perfectly into the Disney Princess film canon.

The song itself relates to Rapunzel's (the princess with the long hair) internal conflict over whether she should go out and experience the life outside her tower that she's always wanted, or content herself to stay inside and remain safe from harm (an idea perpetuated by Mother Gothel, the villainous matron who kidnapped and raised Rapunzel).

Well I may not be a princess, nor do I have magical glowing hair with healing powers (as Rapunzel
does in the movie). And I'm most certainly not a captive in a tower in the middle of the woods.

But the lyrics to the song have their own resonance for me.

When you break down the lyrics, the story they tell is very simple. When you have a good thing going, why would you give it up on a dream that you aren't even sure is worth dreaming about? But with that in mind, how can you go on living a half-life when you can see great things on the hazy horizon?

In my case, I've got my father's love, a home in Southern California, a million great experiences in my back pocket and tons to come, I'm sure.

Yes, I have everything. Or so it would appear on paper.

Except, I guess, a door to the kind of future that I want.

And while a future not far off from my present life would be fine and dandy - it wouldn't necessarily be fulfilling. My life is excellent, but I know that there's more to it.

Settling has never been part of my nature. When I applied to universities, I put my name into the running at over 15 schools. I wanted to have the best future - one even better than anything I could dream. And I made it happen.

It wasn't fear that got me there, but perseverance and a lot of painful hours focusing on the task at hand.

What it really took was courage.

I even considered hanging back at home and going to school just 30 minutes' drive from where I grew up. I almost wanted that, thinking that the comfort of my family would make even the most unsatisfying decisions worth trying out. But in the end, I'm glad I didn't.

There's beauty in liberation. Making a choice to force your dreams into reality is so scary. Sometimes you will fail, other times you will succeed just by the skin of your teeth. But if you have a dream, whatever it is, you need to go for it.

2011, the year I stopped cutting my hair, was an important time in my life because it was the beginning of a lot of new things. It was the year that I had my first relationship, the year that I started planning my study abroad time in London, the year that I was finally getting into the groove of college and actually realizing what it was I wanted to do with my life.

Now, in 2014, I've not quite arrived at the end point of the journey that began in 2011. Nothing is satisfied. My hair keeps growing, and so do the possibilities for what the future might hold. But I'm afraid to cut it because it's still a vestige of who I used to be. Like Rapunzel, my hair seems to hold some kind of mythical importance to me. I keep it around because I've had it for so long, and I'm afraid what cutting it might mean.

But there will come a day when, like Rapunzel, I too will cut that hair (or have it cut off by the figurative Flynn Rider). And that will be an even bigger turning point. Because it will signify that I'm finally contented with where I'm at. That's what I'm most looking forward to.

I may not be able to just hop outside a tower and be living my dream that easily, but that doesn't mean that Rapunzel and I are not one in the same.

My dreams are forthcoming, and because I know that I'm ready to embrace them, I believe they will come true. Just like in most every Disney movie. Dreams do come true. As long as I keep my head up, my heart ready and my hair growing, I can do anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment