A haircut and higher education as a transformative experience – a stream of consciousness
The other day someone referred to me as ‘sophisticated’. I’ve been called a lot of things in my time including ‘nutty as squirrel poo’ (which was meant as an insult, but I found it cute and not entirely inaccurate). However, never have I ever been called ‘sophisticated’. But, as far as I was concerned, all I did was cut my hair short and yes it does look neat and tidy. Is that seriously all it took?! For the past four years I have been growing my hair and it was my intention to get it cut after graduation to mark my rite of passage. However, I could not wait until Summer to chop off my locks. I was itching for change, yet scared of it at the same time. I had this bizarre belief that no matter what I wore or how I styled my hair, I looked scruffy. Even when I worked in an office and wore smart suits, I felt uncomfortable. I felt I was shabby chic, just without the ‘chic’. Maybe it was impostor syndrome and feeling I did not belong in that environment, which always felt artificial and alien to me. Yet, similarly, I also have a fear of looking too smart. What on earth is that all about? I’m curious whether my mother make a flippant remark when I was little, that somehow permanently lodged, like a shard of glass, deep in my unconscious. I do not follow fashion and prefer to find my treasures in charity shops or even supermarkets [FLUMP! – sound of fashionistas fainting]. I choose what I feel comfortable in, what suits my complexion and body shape and most obviously, being a student, a price that suits my wallet.
So, when I reflected on the ‘sophisticated’ comment, I realised I have actually changed and I feel I don’t necessarily not deserve that comment! I wasn’t offended by the statement and did not assume the person was being sarcastic or referring to someone else called Jules. I took it as a compliment that maybe I finally feel worthy to receive. University has definitely changed me; for the better, I might add. The experience has somehow both emboldened and mellowed me. It has been a process of breaking down my old sense of self and replacing it with a new, quietly empowered and more assertive self. It has been a humbling experience. This has probably been achieved by being constantly pushed out of my comfort zone, to the edges of my edge where I can learn and grow from the challenges I faced, both in university and in my personal life. As a mature student you can escape to campus during the day and revel in your student identity, but all the drudgery of domesticity and emotional labour of parenting still awaits you on your return home.
Deferred gratification and self-efficacy are concepts I previously struggled with. In my youth, I was hedonistic and lacked confidence in my abilities to achieve great things. Yet having had to strive four years to get a degree, I finally feel I am in charge of my own life, despite knowing more about how society ‘works’ and controls us and disadvantages some groups over others. Yes, there is still fear of the unknown, but being courageous does not necessitate being fearless, as I take baby steps along my own path. Even falling flat on my face is still taking me in the direction I want to go, right?! I have developed a high internal locus of evaluation and control and learned to prioritise self-care. I have to be self-motivated to get stuff done and to be able to sleep soundly at night. Even now, I have colleagues who work on their assignments up until deadline. I admire their gumption and self-confidence in their ability to produce work at the last minute, but I also know how I work best to get good grades. I could not leave things till the eleventh hour. I would be a wreck. I refuse to run off adrenaline these days. Now I know, without any shadow of a doubt, what path I want to take in life (a simple and peaceful one helping others break down barriers preventing them achieving their potential) there is purpose and meaning to what I do, which usually helps sustain my motivation. Whether I will get there straight away does not bother me. I know I will get there….whenever…and wherever ‘there’ is. Until then, I will continue to be ‘nutty as squirrel poo’, ‘a tornado of joy’ and of course, ‘sophisticated’! : D
You don’t have to move mountains. Simply fall in love with life. Be a tornado of happiness, gratitude and acceptance. You will change the world just by being a warm, kind-hearted human being. ~ Anita Krizzan