Highlights of my Life This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 26, 2011
I stare at the passport forms in front of me. Questions number twelve and thirteen, height and eye color. Those are easy. I’m five feet and two-tenths of an inch tall and my eyes are dark brown. Then I reach number fourteen: the box reads “Hair.” I freeze, as if I have trouble recalling my own hair color. I slowly pass my fingers through the locks, from the roots to the tips, feeling each hair, smooth and straight, not too thick but not thin, rich and healthy. Most would be pleased with such a mane, but I am not, as only ninety percent is me, ten percent is bottle. I let my bangs fall into my face, blocking my view, concealing my shame. If eyes are the windows to the soul, then my bangs are the curtains.
“Your hair is so beautiful. Is it natural?” seemed to be a frequently asked question, as many were mesmerized by the color of my tresses. Indeed my color was rich, full of luster, a blondish, brownish, reddish shade with the ability to light up like fire in the sunlight. I would proudly reply, “Yes.” My hair was easily a prize, it was a gift I was given. From birth I had black hair, which grew lighter into the dirty blonde tint of childhood, but darkened, as I did, with age. But every summer, like clockwork, highlights would emerge, like a rainbow after a storm. Yet, I saw only brown.
I was in no way ashamed of my hair color; I did not dislike it at all. In fact I would pride myself that my locks were not of the ordinary brown that belonged to my friends. The problem was, I could see no beauty in it. On the surface it appeared a mixture of colors, light and energetic, but on the inside I felt it was dull, devoid of life. I wasn’t happy, so I knew I needed a change. I wanted to feel like someone else, to gain a little attention like everyone else, to become anything but myself.
One late August morning, five days before the start of tenth grade, I decided to make the change and highlighted my hair. One mistake leads to a whole train of bad decisions, and within two hours there I was, sitting in Kidz Kutz with fire-engine-red hair.
For three days following the bad highlight job, I avoided the mirror. It wasn’t that the color looked dreadful on my hair and with my skin tone, it was that the color wasn’t me, didn’t match me, it looked terrible on me. I mistakenly tried to turn myself into something that I wasn’t, and in doing so I became a fake. I was left with only fifty percent of the true me; my other fifty percent was dyed over, stripping me of my true color and replacing it with a sham. Upon the realization of what I had done, I yearned to get rid of the color, wash it out, erase it, cut it, fix it like I could any other mistake. But dye is permanent; it’s an irreversible process. Once it’s poured onto the scalp, it stays there. I couldn’t look into the mirror for fear of seeing a girl that wasn’t me, but one who was a pathetic stranger.
All things mature and grow old, and with that their colors fade away. Highlights grow out, and from the roots, new hair emerges, clean, pure, and original. Hair is constantly growing, and like life, one doesn’t notice a change right away. But given time, a step back, and a view through clearer eyes, one will notice just how much it has grown.

Now as I complete my passport forms, I feel a tinge of guilt as I fill in box number fourteen. In the box there is one word, one part, one description. It reads BROWN. But I know that if I allow myself to look closely I’ll see it’s much more than that. It has the red of anger, energy, love, passion, and emotion, the intelligence of a brunette, and the spirit and humor of a blonde. My hair is just like me, indecisive, indescribable, not quite sure of itself. But for now, both my hair and I are happy just being unique.

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