Catherine Olsen
April 29, 2015 12:47 pm

I am not known to take risks. Whenever I go to an amusement park with my friends, I’m usually the one who stays behind and holds everyone’s stuff while they go on the huge roller coasters. I’m not very outgoing in social situations either; every conversation with an acquaintance or stranger makes me feel like I’m defusing a bomb. But in May of my junior year of high school, I decided to do something rather radical and unexpected: I decided to dye my hair (partially) bright pink.

I never really planned on ever dyeing my hair. I have dirty blonde hair that has a golden tint to it (100% natural, thank you very much!) that I’m rather fond of. But photos in magazines and on Pinterest of girls with bubblegum pink hair caught my eye, and I began to daydream of having that hair color myself. Two weeks before my summer vacation started, I shyly asked my mother what she thought of a photo of a model with short, pink hair. She instantly saw right through me, but she surprised me by agreeing to schedule a hair appointment for me the Saturday after my finals.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived at the salon. I had what some people called “virgin” hair, in that it wasn’t ever colored or chemically straightened or anything like that. Even though I was only putting in a few highlights here and there, I was very, VERY nervous that my hair could be seriously damaged. Thankfully, my stylist knew what she was doing, and my hair survived the bleaching. After a very long process that lasted almost four hours followed by another visit to retouch the color, my hair was a vibrant, if not slightly startling, shade of pink.

The reactions were varied. One of my managers at my new job actually reintroduced himself to me because he did not recognize me. My supervisor, however, loved it. My grandparents seemed a little startled by it, and eyed it suspiciously. A few of my coworkers said I would’ve looked better with auburn highlights, rather than pink.

It was a conversation starter, to say the least. I had to adjust to people I’d never even spoken to before commenting on my physical appearance. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me after a while. I knew I liked my hair and I thought it looked good, and that’s all that mattered.

After I dyed my hair, something definitely changed. Not only was my hair different, but my attitude was. I became used to people staring at me and asking questions. Some daring strangers even tried to touch it. I learned to be a bit more outgoing and friendly, especially to the little kids who were positively awestruck by the pops of color in my hair. Their reactions just beat out those of the elderly customers at my job, who chuckled and smiled when they saw me.

By changing a small part of my physical appearance and expressing myself, I had somehow changed myself internally. It was as if the pink dye had crept into my personality, making me bubblier and friendlier than I had ever been. I would have hated and hidden from all the attention I received before I dyed my hair, but now I embraced it. I felt light-hearted, confident, and something I had never before experienced — bold.

It’s been eight months since I’ve dyed my hair. The color has long since washed out, leaving behind white streaks from the bleach. Yes, white; apparently bleaching blonde hair makes it white straight away. Even though I look like I’m going gray at 17, I still do not regret my decision, and I don’t think I ever will. Dyeing my hair gave me a new outlook on life: Just because something is risky or strange doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try it if I think it can make me happy. I may not chose to be adventurous and spontaneous with everything I do, but I know I can now. So whether it’s ordering something different at your favorite diner, buying something without trying it on, or getting your hair dyed funky colors, just go for it. Hey, you only live once!

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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