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January 2011 by Leah Donnella

January 2011. I’m alone in my dorm room, bored, excited. Classes haven’t started yet. My friends aren’t back from winter break. No one has seen me in almost a month. My body still needs to adjust to the East Coast/West Coast weather shift, so I’m sweating a little. It’s the perfect moment for a transformation.

“New year, new you,” I say, smiling at myself in the mirror. Sometimes it’s a giant, omg-I’m-having-so-much-fun!-smile. Other times it’s a coy, I-know-something-you-don’t-know-smile. Sometimes it’s a smile and a wink. Sometimes it’s a smile and a laugh. These are the faces, I assume, that will populate 2011. Faces full of joy and effortless beauty with a little bit of sass. 2011, I think to myself, is My. Year.

This scene, if possible, is even creepier than it sounds. Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin in Love” is playing loudly, and I have a birthday cake-scented candle lit. I am not messing around.

I reach for the scissors on my desk, still smiling. They are large scissors with a plastic turquoise handle. Not particularly sharp.

“New Year, New You!” I say, chopping right into my damp ponytail. I don’t break eye contact with myself. I try not to stop smiling.

Hair, it turns out, is harder to cut than one might think. I had imagined chopping off a neat little bundle of curls in one satisfying slice, then shaking my head, and admiring my fresh new #cuteself in the mirror. One and done.

Instead, I spend minutes painstakingly hacking away. Long enough to know without a shadow of a doubt, by the time I’m finished, that I’ve made a horrible mistake. I am neither charming nor self-possessed enough to embrace what I’ve become, which is a pre-pubescent Aubrey Graham.

(No shade intended to young Drizzy. He is adorable and perfect. I was, and continue to be, neither.)

2011 does usher in a new era for me. An era of unprecedented misery and isolation. And while I can’t prove that it has anything to do with my hair, I haven’t heard any good counter-theories either.

December 2015. Almost five years have passed. I’m alone in my apartment, bored, listless. The weekend isn’t over yet. My friends aren’t…you know…I haven’t made them. No one has seen me in almost 48 hours. My body still needs to adjust to global warming, so I’m sweating a little. It’s the perfect moment for a transformation.

“New year, new you,” I whisper. I don’t smile. This time it’s serious.

Selena Gomez’s “Perfect” quietly goads me on. I light an Apple and Pumpkin Picking ™ candle for ambiance. (This scene is exactly as creepy as it sounds.)

There are a million things I could do. I have wax strips! Green eyeliner! Running shoes! I could become a coffee, wine, or whiskey drinker. I could practice yoga. I could learn an instrument or volunteer somewhere. I could adopt a puppy. I could open a casual dining restaurant called Seasonings that specializes in fresh full flavor foods with no saturated fat.

But do I want any of those things? Do I really want a life filled with mindfulness and pet dander?

…or do I just want to be a carefree cool girl with short hair?

I still have the same turquoise scissors. They haven’t gotten any sharper.

New year, new you. I don’t say it out loud. I just know. I just know.

Then I hack away, quietly singing to myself. There’s no mirror in my bedroom, but I’m fine with that. I can already see the woman I am becoming.

Bye hair. Bye insecurities. Bye, boring old 2015 me. Hello fresh new kyewt me. Oh, are you waving your hands, telling me to put the scissors down? Too bad, couldn’t see you. I was too busy winking.

2016 is my. year.



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