I look in the mirror and can feel my impatience surge.
I should call and make an appointment with a professional and shell out however much it costs to procure a decent haircut. I should rely on the training of someone who makes their living framing faces and dying tresses and everything in between.
But I don’t.
Instead, I go the kitchen and I pull out a pair of scissors, usually reserved for construction paper or wrapping paper or ribbons for pathetic-looking bows.
Instead, I ignore the hundred other times I’ve decided to cut my own bangs. Times that ended in disaster, with uneven ends and strands cut too short and crooked lines.
Instead, I comb back my hair and I separate segments of brown and blonde and with a quick motion of an unsteady hand, chunks of hair hit the bottom of a disappointed sink.
I look into the mirror and can feel my cheeks flush. I should have called and made an appointment with a professional. My bangs are too short and the frame is all wrong and my face looks like it has gained twenty pounds, instantly.
I just refuse to learn.
I don’t know why I believed this particular attempt would be different than any of the others. I don’t know why I continue to try, allowing a sliver of doubtful possibility to overrule reason and logic and history.
Then again, I’m not surprised.
It’s like the time my father sent messages on Christmas and New Years and my birthday.
I knew how they’d end: he’d ask that I let his other child know that he misses him and thinks of him and would love to talk to him.
I knew how they’d make me feel: useless and disposable and mediocre.
I knew he couldn’t or wouldn’t or just refused to change and regardless of promises made or hurtful words dressed in seemingly safe syllables, the broken relationship would never mend and we would never be close and he could never be supportive.
I knew I should’ve told him to never contact me again and I should’ve ignored future messages and I should’ve moved on, away from him and the pain he has caused.
Instead, I held out hope that time and old age and a plethora of regrets would push him toward the kind of transcendent change I see in films.
Instead, I looked for the positive in a sea of negative and ended up drowning.
Instead, I responded.
Instead, I was left alone in my embarrassment, feeling like the five-year-old girl who just wanted her father’s approval but received his harsh words and violent actions instead.
I just refuse to learn.
It’s like the time I befriended a woman who made me feel uncomfortable and unsure and afflicted.
I knew she had ulterior motives: she made conversations entirely about herself and asked for career details that aren’t otherwise shared and cared very little about me—as a woman or a companion or a person.
I knew she was trying to further her career by any means necessary, and a true friendship can’t be based on jealousy or resentment or a begrudging support that seems more self-serving than genuine.
I knew I should have distanced myself and protected myself and kept my emotions behind a cage of personality traits she didn’t own.
I knew the red flags I continued to notice were too glaring to be ignored.
Instead, I thought of the best friend I lost to adulthood and jealousy and thought, in some small way, I could make up for that destroyed friendship by creating an entirely new and potentially promising one.
Instead, I searched for a fictitious silver lining, not trusting instincts that screamed and rattled and shook my rib cage.
Instead, I called her a friend.
Instead, I was left alone in my embarrassment, feeling like the twenty-five-year-old girl who just wanted her best friend’s approval but received her judgement and resentment instead.
I just refuse to learn.
I look in the mirror and sigh. Just like the countless times before, my hair will grow and the regretful consequence of another ignored lesson won’t be as noticeable. In the meantime, I’ll hide out at home and ignore my father’s messages and make a conscious decision to listen to the pit in my stomach when it growls.
In the meantime, I’ll allow the simple hilarity of uneven strands to remind me that there’s power in admitting my inabilities. I am unable to adequately cut my own hair. I am unable to handle my father’s constant devastation. I am unable to be friends with everyone.
In the meantime, I’ll trust myself, even when that simple action seems counterproductive. I will remind myself that my knowledge isn’t pessimistic or callous, but earned through heartache and the repeated actions of others. I won’t doubt my screaming intuition, but instead listen to the echoes of a past that can prove to be meaningful—as long as I pay attention.
In the meantime, I’ll laugh at my stubborn willingness to somehow change what can’t be changed, and instead promise to put my time and effort and energy into the only entity I can control.
Author: Danielle Campoamor
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Flickr/Helga Weber