I am super thankful I didn’t keep the new year’s resolution I made last year. Last November, I decided to give up dramatic hair changes: no cuts or color for one year. I could still get trims and root touch-ups, but I put a self-imposed ban on trying every single hair trend I saw on Instagram.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was huge for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a ramshackle romance with my hair. Every hair cut I’ve ever had has a story, from the time I cut off all my hair in preparation for chemo to the horrible, unflattering fashion mullet bestowed upon me as a last-minute stand-in for a model at a hair show (that one left me in tears for months).

I don’t usually resolve to quit anything. I look at new year’s resolutions as sort of a challenge, like, YEAH, I can do that, just watch me. One year it was drink more whiskey, in an effort to try new cocktails instead of the same boring vodka soda I always get. Another it was wear more glitter, in an attempt to add some much-needed sparkle to my life.

Resolving to quit dramatic hair changes for a year was an attempt to a) save myself some time and money, b) let my hair grow out, and c) learn to be happy with my hair just the way it is. My natural hair is pretty great: it’s thick, it grows out normally (it doesn’t get dry until I attack it with bleach), and was super straight until recently when it developed this weird wave mid-length that my mom and all her sisters said they also developed in their late twenties. There are plenty of girls who would kill for my hair.

Last November, I got a trim, and then quietly decided to stick with that same haircut for the next year. And for awhile, I was good with it. I let my bangs grow out way too much, so in April, I cut those back in and dyed my long-neglected purple ends black. That was it. It was weird. I wore wigs. I deleted my hairdresser’s cell number from my phone. I let my hair grow, nourishing it with oils and deep-conditioners. Most of the time, I threw it up into a boring ponytail and, when it was long enough, a bun. I experimented with hair accessories (Charmsies quickly became a fave). Some days I would style it, but it was so long and all it did was just kinda… hang out on my shoulders, making me hot and sweaty. In my day job, as a beauty writer, I wrote about rainbow hair and unicorn hair and ombres and I let go of any pressing need to try those trends. I shaved so much time off my morning routine, since my hair really just needed some dry shampoo most days.

Look how long my hair was!

I lasted until August, I unexpectedly ran into an ex while walking down the street. I freaked out. I made a hair appointment. I reshaped the grown-out mess that was my hair and put in a black-to-teal ombre. It wasn’t enough. Ten days later, I cut off 8 inches and walked home with an asymmetrical haircut and blue tips. It’s the kind of color that needs to be touched up every week or so, and it’s the kind of cut that has to be combed a certain way every morning. Goodbye, wash-n-go, I barely knew you, but I hated you so.

What I didn’t realize until it was taken away from me was that making dramatic changes to my hair was a very important part of my identity and my self-therapy. Anytime I was feeling low, I considered making a change to my hair, the dehydrated strands of my hair seemed totally on board and I instantly perked up. Bright purple? Done. Rihanna red? Why not? Black to purple ombres, nearly undetectable in dark smoky clubs, impossible to ignore in the bright sunshine. I would regain all the motivation and energy I needed to overcome a bout of depression, anxiety, or general malaise just by looking in the mirror and seeing someone new, a slightly different version of me. That’s the great thing about hair. It’s mine, no one can tell me what to do with it, and if it ends up looking like crap, it’ll grow back, it’s fine. I thought giving it a break would give me the hair of my dreams, but as it turns out, my hair dreams change every week. That’s what makes my hair is a safe place to have fun with beauty, because it’s never permanent. So I’m very thankful I quit that New Year’s resolution— some really just aren’t worth keeping.

[Images via Instagram]