The summer after my senior year in high school I got my hair cut. A lot. It had been really long and I decided I wanted a change, so I went to this guy’s apartment to get my hair cut. That’s right—it wasn’t a hair salon, it was a guy’s apartment. Red flag! But really he was an excellent hair stylist except this one particular day. Everyone has off days, and this was his. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the show The Brady Bunch, but in that show there was a season or two where the mom, Carol, sports an infamously bad haircut. It was short and round like a little cap but then it had these awful, long wispy pieces along the edges. You should absolutely take the time to google it. Carol Brady. You’ll know the hair cut when you see it, believe me. Anyway, I don’t think anyone thought it was a good haircut even at the time Carol wore it, and it certainly wasn’t any better twenty years later when I ended up with it.
I went to my grandmother’s house later that day, and was glad that she didn’t notice my new, terrible haircut. It gave me a little hope that maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d thought, because my grandmother would say something if it was. She was the straight forward type. But then, after we’d been sitting in a restaurant for a while she leaned forward, squinted and said, “Amanda Jane (this is what she always called me), what have you done to your hair!?” “I got it cut. This guy I know cut it a little shorter than I meant for him to.” My grandmother said, “He’s ruined you! Who is he? I want to know who’s the man that ruined my grand daughter’s hair! You look awful!”
So, she did notice…
Now that I’ve told you this story, it’s my job to tell you nice things about my grandmother. She was a wonderful character. I loved her and she loved me a whole lot. And apparently she also really loved my long hair.
Why have I told you this story? Partially because I like it. It makes me smile. But also because it reminds me how uncomfortable personal evolution is. Change is uncomfortable, and sometimes it gets ugly before it gets pretty again. My artwork changes. It has to because it’s following me and I’m changing and learning and growing. And when we change, there are going to be people—even people who love us a whole lot— who are going to lean forward, squint at us and say “What have you done!?” And if you’re like me, that day in the restaurant, you’re just going to cry a whole lot, and then your grandmother’s going to say, “Oh no, I think I’ve upset her.”
But my point is, we shouldn’t let other people’s opinions of us steal our courage to try a new direction. And, if any of you have just gotten the Carol Brady hair cut, take heart! It will grow out in about three years.