Sunday, January 2, 2011

Like a Box of Chocolates

It’s a new year. Time to reflect on the old year and ring in the new. Time pack the holidays away and start planning for the year ahead. Time to set goals, get organized, clean out my closets, and get a clear head. Time to start anew. It’s time to assess the past, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and change direction if needed.

It’s funny because growing up I always thought that changing direction would somehow make me appear inconsistent, unpredictable, and unstable. I valued consistency and reliability. Consistency equaled credibility and that equaled your reputation, right? After all, how could you be perceived as reliable and consistent when you were always changing directions?

My friends in high school always joked that I was “fickle” when it came to boys, because I always found someone new to interest me. I wasn’t a “high school sweetheart” kind of gal, but I found that starting my sophomore year of college I became a serial monogamist and dated guys for a year at a time. I valued that stability and consistency when it came to men, and, fortunately, I still do.

When it comes to hair, however, that is surely not the case! I have changed my hair cut and color a zillion times over the years. From very short and platinum blonde right after law school to shoulder-length and darker brown when I got married. From bangs to no bangs. Highlights to lowlights. Blonde to reddish to dirty-dishwasher brown. I recently heard that the average woman changes her hairstyles over 100 times in her lifetime. I certainly can believe that, based on my personal experience alone! I am always changing it up. I have always blamed my need for hairdo “variety” on my Gemini nature. There are two sides to me, and I seem to vacillate between the two. For the most part, I have felt that frequent cut-and-colors keep my life – or at least my hair – interesting and current. Not to mention, unlike some women who have had the same hairstyle (or a variation thereof) for the past 10 years, I have never found a hairstyle that is timeless for me. I have wondered at times, though, if my constantly-changing look has ever impacted my credibility or reliability or consistency. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get! One of my close friends recently told me that she admired the fact that I had the courage to change my hairstyle so often. Courage, I wish! It is purely a result of dissatisfaction with my current ‘do, and the need to find a new one. Pronto.

As you can see, over the years, I have struggled with a need to change and a need to be consistent. My personal need for variety balanced against being reliable, familiar, and comforting for others. The older I get, the more I realize that I need to embrace the desire to change myself, to grow and evolve, and to not be afraid of appearing inconsistent.

Oprah often quotes Maya Angelou’s insightful observation that “when you know better, you do better”. Not only are you free to change, but you SHOULD change because it means you have experienced something, learned from it, and you are applying your newly-found knowledge to what lies before you. As we women well know, much to our dismay, certain parts of our bodies change physically as we age – we get wrinkles, sun spots, and saggy butts, grey hair, glasses, and droopy boobs. So, if that is the case, why can’t the rest of us change, too, based on the knowledge we have gained?

I am one of those people who like to start off a new year with new goals, a clear head, and an organized basement. Somehow having an orderly home translates to an orderly mind. When the cobwebs in my closets are cleaned out, so are the cobwebs of my mind. It sounds funny, but it is true for me. I am not into “resolutions”, but I am into order. I find myself feeling that I need to regroup to become a bit more grounded and a bit more clear with my intentions. If there is any time to do it, this is the time of year to fully embrace change, and I am trying to do that as much as I can.