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My mom started a tradition when I was about 13 where we would grow our hair long, then cut and donate it. I followed through with it without much thought — or choice, to be honest. I remember being nervous during my first donation haircut, but my mom reminded me that my hair would grow back and my current ponytail would be given to someone who didn’t have their own. Now everyone in my family grows and cuts their hair for donation. You just can't beat the feeling knowing that a small sacrifice in your life could be so big in someone else's.
Because of this, everyone already knew why I grew my hair as long as I did, but no one quite understood why I kept growing it after I had enough length to donate. Looking back, it was a security blanket. I loved the attention that came with having long hair, which other girls always wanted to braid and style, and I liked how it looked on me. My hair’s the physical feature I’m most proud of — it makes me feel secure, confident, and like a woman. Let's just say I grew attached, so I wanted my next haircut to be significant. So a few years ago I started telling people I would cut my hair after my college graduation.
I grew it out for four years — the entirety of college — to more than three feet long. Living with that length was manageable, but irritating. At its longest, my hair would get caught in shirt buttons, zippers, and things as I walked by. Buns gave me headaches after a few minutes, so a simple braid became the only hairstyle I could wear. I went through shampoo and conditioner quickly and the hair in my drains and in the corners of my apartment started getting more and more annoying. But having long hair made me recognizable, memorable, and earned me a lot of compliments, so I still held on. Then, right after I graduated from college, it finally felt like enough was enough.
The cut had a significant meaning, but I also wanted to shed my college look — or at least look like I'm allowed to be in a bar. (I am 21, after all.) Having long hair made me not want to try anything new, but with short hair, I’ve been trying new things and feel more confident in myself. I recommend a big hair change for anyone who wants to mark a new phase of their life, whether it's long enough to be donated or not. By the time my hair gets long again, it’s a sign I’ve settled into another routine — and when that happens, you can bet the next cut will shake it up again.