Why Everyone Should Shave Their Head

During the summer of 2011, I shaved my head. I was in the downstairs bathroom gripping the edges of the white porcelain sink and I had this absurd thought of shaving my head. And just like that, I grabbed my dad’s clippers from upstairs and did it in a few smooth motions. My sister saw me with my new self-haircut, and she cried. She was fourteen.

Here is a picture of me in a tree donning my beautiful lime green RA polo in a tree.

shortcare

 

Earlier this week, I had a horrifying dream. I’ll give you the SparkNotes version. A friend of mine was super excited about something, and I was super curious. Then all of a sudden, she says, “We should shave your head!!” And of course, in this dream, I replied just as enthusiastically…”Yes! Of course we should!” Now, I thought it would be one of those situations where someone invites you out to coffee, but never actually intends to follow up…we’ve all been there, right? Well, to my surprise, my friend pulls out the clippers right on the spot and I start freaking the frick out. I’m crying – sobbing, really – and fighting against her as hard as I can to not have my head shaved.

The end result? I looked something like this:

barbie-doll-bad-haircuts-dgaaxnny5jggreuy

As it turns out, according to a dream dictionary, having your hair cut is a sign of success in a new venture or sphere of activity. Could this possibly apply to my upcoming interview at NYU? Let’s hope so.

My interpretation was a little different. Having my head forcibly shaved in this dream meant that it is time for a significant life change – one that I am very consciously resistant to. I know that I am ready for a change, and that it’s time for something new. But as always, transition and change bring stress and challenging times. And while I’m trying my best to be positive, I can’t deny that I have been completely stressed and a tad overwhelmed these past few weeks. Back to my dream, it’s time to cut something loose. Out with the old, in with the new.

As Regina Spektor says in this song,  “Maybe you should cut your own hair / ’cause that would be so funny / it doesn’t cost any money / and it always grow back / hair grows even after you’re dead.”

So many people I know are going through times of transition and change, and let me tell you, it is HARD. I definitely don’t want to diminish the challenges that are associated with these times. But I have some tips to potentially help with the “shaving your head” metaphor.

  1. Maybe you should cut your own hair…
    • Transition and change is difficult. But the first part is accepting it. I need to embrace the fact that by this time six months from now, my life will be 100% completely different. The first step is realizing what you have the power to control, and letting everything else just happen.
  2. …’cause that would be so funny
    • Loosen up a bit. I found myself venting to a friend earlier this week about all my stress, and she laughed out loud and said, “Michael, it’s not that big of a deal.” She even imitated me. And admittedly so, I did sound a bit whiny. We tend to make a bigger deal out of things. Laugh a little bit, it’ll be good for you.
  3. It doesn’t cost any money
    • Cutting your own hair doesn’t cost any money. Change and transition doesn’t have to cause stress. Enjoy the present moment rather than stressing about the hypothetical future that isn’t even in existence yet.
  4. It always grows back, hair grows even after you’re dead
    • You can always change your mind. If you hate your new shaved head, or if it’s a total hack job, it’ll always grow back. In time. Give it time. New perspectives usually come with time, which is never a bad thing.

Now, go shave your head.

 

 

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Lessons Learned: On Love, Travels, and Food Poisoning

For those that don’t know, this past week I was gallivanting around Chicago for a conference and loving every minute of it. The conference, Creating Change, was absolutely amazing. It focused on LGBTQ advocacy and social justice, and I learned so much.

Among other tales from this past week, I saw the Bean, tried authentic deep dish pizza, fell in love for the weekend, and suffered a major bout of food poisoning. And as much as I would like to go on and on about any or all of those stories, that isn’t necessarily the point of this blog.

Out of all the sessions I went to, out of all the people I met, there is one lesson in particular that is still sticking with me, even after the love, the poisoning, and the flights back home. I was in a workshop, How to Create Non-Oppressive Spaces for Queer Students of Color. And in the workshop, the facilitator said this: “We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.”

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

This resonated with me in all types of ways. Mostly because, as a 24-year-old graduate student, I sometimes still doubt my knowledge and my ability to create change. I went into this conference thinking I had a whole lot to learn. I’m still in the beginning stages of advocacy work, social justice movements, and really understanding the bigger picture. But, I was surprised to walk into that conference and be able to share some knowledge that maybe other people didn’t necessarily have.

We can’t let our need to learn keep us from action.

We are all learning. We are life-long learners. At least, I hope we are. Regardless of whether or not we are in school, whatever level of formal education you have, there is always something to be learned in the world. This past week, I learned multiple things about LGBTQ advocacy, social justice issues, etc. So I’m here to report back. Now, granted, I know that not all of us work in Diversity Centers or in Higher Education, so I’m mindful of that, but these are some lessons that I learned or was reminded of during my time in Chicago.

  1. Embrace new adventures
    • I was PUMPED to go to Chicago! New foods, new people, and an amazing conference that I heard nothing but good things about. Take risks and embrace the adventures in your life – from the every day adventures in the coffee line to traveling to new cities.
  2. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction
    • “Eat whatever you want!” they say. “It’ll be good!” they say. Yes, until you are hugging the toilet bowl at 3am, 5am, and 6am after eating something that was clearly poisoned. Now, here’s the thing. What was the alternative? I couldn’t not eat. The new lesson here? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, whether or not you know what that reaction will be. Oftentimes, the reaction is hard to predict.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    • Never in my life did I expect to meet anyone of substance at this conference. Hooking up, sure, maybe. Professional connections, definitely. But someone who can hold a conversation and is super cute and is nice to spend time with? Well, I didn’t expect that. And I feel like it’s only when you don’t expect it, that it happens.
  4. There is always something to learn
    • If people want to talk about diversity programming with university students, I’m your guy. Student development theory? Hit me up. But I also have so much to learn. At this conference, it was evident that while everyone had their own special and unique interest areas, we were all able to learn and grow from each other.
  5. Make coming home a positive experience
    • I was sitting in the airport, sleep-deprived, drained of all fluids, thinking of nothing but work and school starting back up tomorrow. But as soon as I saw my friend pulling up at the airport to pick me up, I knew that I was back home, and that was a good feeling. It was so good to see her, and I know it’ll be great to see work friends tomorrow, and to be in the classroom again. By viewing it as a positive, it’s making me feel less sad about leaving Chicago, and happier to be back in Buffalo.

Twentysomething Changes

Most of the ideas for this blog come from something relevant in my life that has happened that week. If I’m lucky, it relates to being a twentysomething, and then BAM, a blog post is made. This week, three unique things stick out in my mind that I am itching to write more about: my first time white water rafting, my sister’s high school graduation, and the Marriage Equality Act being passed by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, none of those things directly relate to being a twentysomething. However, there is a similar theme. Change.

  1. White Water Rafting (A Change in Routine)
    • I will be the first to admit, I did not want to go white water rafting this week. I like my routine, and driving an hour to go do something I had never done before did not appeal to me at all. I knew it would be outdoors, wet, and dirty. Things I know I do not enjoy. But mostly because I was voluntold, I went. I thought, “Hey, maybe this won’t be so bad! I may actually enjoy this!” I’ll say that I was right: it was outdoors, wet, and dirty. And I was also right in that I knew those were things I do not like. So therefore, I don’t think I will be white water rafting again any time soon. But could it have been something worthwhile? Sure. Breaking the routine can bring unsure change, but it can be worth it, especially if you find something new you love to do. Try something new!
  2. My Sister’s High School Graduation (A Change of Roles)
    • Over my twentysomething years, the roles I’ve played have come and gone. Very few have remained the same since birth. Son, male…that’s about it. My other roles have been fluid and are constantly changing. When I was at my sister’s high school graduation, I couldn’t believe it had been six years since my own. But even more so, I sat in that audience with a beaming glow of Big Brother Pride. Even just thinking of the six years since I graduated, my role has changed so much. High school student, college student, college graduate, full-time professional, graduate student, twentysomething. And I think that’s to be expected—not just in this twentysomething limbo, but all throughout life. Roles will change. But that’s what keeps life interesting. I don’t think I’d want to keep the same role for the next twenty years. A welcomed change, I’d say.
  3. The Marriage Equality Act passed by the Supreme Court (A Change of Times)
    • When my sister came rushing downstairs this past Friday to share this news with me, I dropped my cereal bowl on the table and started crying. I can’t remember the last time I cried. But this decision means so much not only to me, but for the next generation. The generation who will grow up and maybe, just maybe, not feel suppressed for who they choose to love. I know there is still a long way to go for true equality, but this decision is momentous. Two moms, two dads…maybe it won’t be seen as wrong, just seen as different. And that in itself is huge. Twentysomethings have seen so much political change in the past twentysomething years, and the Marriage Equality Act is just one cherry on top of the massive ice cream sundae. We are also one of the most socially active generations, so keep fighting for what you believe to be right!

A lot of people are afraid of change. Change means something new, and there is always a fear of the unknown. But change can also imply growth. Not always, but sometimes. And that makes it worth the risk.