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Just a Trim This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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A burst of cold air came rushing through the room as an older woman hurried in with her son to escape the winter chill. The sudden change in temperature sent chills up my spine and woke me from my daydream of candy canes and gifts beneath the tree. “Jingle Bell Rock” and obnoxious hair dryers made the atmosphere come alive. The smell of hair products and coffee added a hint of home and business. Women of all ages were rushing in to get coiffed before Santa or the relatives arrived.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see several young children waiting anxiously for their mothers to finish. My vision shifted to the mirror in front of me. I stared blankly at my reflection. My mind began to slip back into my previous state. It was senior year, but it didn’t feel any different from the other three years. I was still as confused as I was four years ago about who I wanted to be. I still felt like that freshman who blends into the bustling hallway crowd between periods.

“Stephanie, Stephanie!” the words echoed in my brain. The world returned to focus. Karen, my hairdresser, staring at me with concern asked, “What do you want to do? I hate to be in such a rush, but you were late and I have other appointments today, you know.” In my thoughts I had almost forgotten she was there. I nodded and took a magazine out of my bag. Karen stared at the photo for a moment, as though studying the exact angle of the cut, and arched her eyebrows. “Are you sure this is what you want?” she asked, impressed. I nodded, and so she got right to work. She pinned up my hair and grabbed the first piece. She combed it out and snipped away months of growth. I stifled myself from saying anything. Karen went into a cutting frenzy.

Bit by bit, the change became too big. Christmas music overtook my hearing, and worry overtook my thoughts. My heart was pulsing in my chest. I wanted to get up and run. I wasn’t ready for “the new me.” I wasn’t ready to let go of the old one yet.

How could I have ever thought that senior year was the same as the other three years? This year was so different from anything else – all the applications and college anxiety, my friendships drifting: all this caused me to grow even more worried. Am I ready for another dramatic change? Oh, why did I make this appointment?

What if she is in such a rush that she cuts it badly? Or what if this style doesn’t look good on me? It’s too much. Stop! I thought. I could feel my breath becoming shorter. My racing mind hit on everything that could go wrong. Then abruptly my thoughts came to a cliff. I relaxed as if a heavy boulder rolled off me. Change is constantly occurring whether you like it or not, I thought.

My fears of the New Year suddenly seemed to vanish. Everything that had happened during the past year was a guide to help me embrace change and accept it. Just like a haircut, change can be sudden and alter the way you look at yourself. Although some changes can’t grow back, you adjust to the way things look from this angle and even discover something new. I wanted this haircut so I could stand out; I wanted to do something different from every other year of my life. I wanted to find myself, to be myself, and to throw other people’s opinions to the wind. Although it’s just a haircut, I already knew it was a step in the right direction.

I blinked and looked at my reflection in the huge mirror. Half of my hair had been pruned. The remaining wet strands dangled, and I felt the winter chill on my now-naked neck. The whole picture came into perspective. I smirked at my new reflection and watched other women in the salon glance over and smile enviously. Oh yeah, 2008, I said to myself, I went there. Hit me with your best shot. I’m more ready than I’ve ever been.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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