Permission to quit things that no longer serve us

There’s a phrase that’s been on my radar recently. Maybe it’s new? Or maybe I’ve just started paying attention. But it goes something like this: “do things that serve you” or “does it serve you?” or “who does it serve?” We’re collectively growing an awareness for the purpose of things in our lives.

And as a person who likes to do projects, self-experiments and the like … sometimes, projects that started out of curiosity or the desire for a challenge become cemented because I don’t want to incur the judgement for “quitting” or “giving up.” What will other people think? What would I think of myself? And so I keep going, at times trudging along with something that may not serve me.

Last year involved a lot of projects. I decided to take a break from some longstanding beauty routines. I quit dyeing my hair, I was a few years into DIY haircuts, I quit using nail polish and mascara. And it’s been mostly amazing — a gift to be my natural self in these small but visible ways. No more fiddling with nail polish (wet nails are the WORST and chipped nails are even WORSE), no more toxic hair dye and dealing with roots, no more costly haircuts. And life without mascara means you can rub your eyes whenever, wherever!

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Challenging ourselves to abandon certain beautification tactics can be so … clarifying. It’s not that we have to give up hair coloring and makeup and nail polish and countless other beauty practices forever. The point is to reset. Gain perspective. Pick your battles. Find love for yourself without modification. Appreciate what you have as it is before you go on enhancing it.

As long as I’m making a conscious choice, I’m moving forward. There are times when I hold my principles so dear that I forget to listen to what I really want. And that’s why it’s important to ask whether things are really serving us. Making the choice to become my own barber (I just love that phrase) was great for me for so many reasons. It truly made me feel like a badass who had discovered a way to save lots of money whilst also enjoying the healthiest hair of my life.

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But last weekend I did something crazy: I got my hair cut by a professional! My DIY haircuts stopped feeling like I could express my style. I *so* loved my every-so-often spontaneous Thursday night chops while listening to the latest episode of Reply All, but my DIY haircuts were no longer serving me.

I really wanted to try a shorter bob that’s just not doable on your own. (I tried and things got real crooked back there.) And I’m even thinking about getting some color in the near future. I’ll be posting some photos on my IG stories if you’re curious. 😉

Lessons are being learned, even when it feels like we’re quitting something that once gave us a lot of conviction. I’m learning to listen to my heart instead of holding myself to certain rigid standards for one reason or another. I don’t desire to go back to nail polish or mascara at the moment … but if I do, I’ll be making a conscious choice about what femininity means to me.

I think this is particularly important since many women have been conditioned to adhere to certain beauty routines since they were barely in double-digits. When we take breaks from routines or try out new ones, we can reclaim what matters to us, cherrypicking which routines/behaviors/styles make us feel most ourselves. (Take that, patriarchy!)

For now, my hair is in the hands of a wonderful stylist named Allison. And I’m cool with that. 🙂

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