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29 Thoughts for 29

Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash

TL;DR – I turned 29 and I have thoughts.

1. My boyfriend and I own a home. I’m still trying to figure out how either of us could possibly qualify for such an endeavor but I’m not mad about it.

2. The other day I told my boyfriend that if we someday have a daughter he needs to teach her all his skills with tools and fixing things. He took this to mean that I too should learn some basic skills. This is not what I meant. I do believe girls should be taught the same skills boys are taught when they’re young, BUT I am also lazy and am referring to other girls, not me. Anyway, at age 28 I learned how to use a drill, take apart a washer, and put together a Target bookshelf, which I’m pretty sure are the kinds of things my boyfriend learned how to do when he was 3. Still, I come from woodworking ancestors, so yes it turns out that I am naturally very good with a drill.

3. When I was in high school, I remember a family friend asked me if I actually learned any Spanish after having taken it for three years, and I responded “no,” which at the time I thought was for some reason the right answer. I was so cool that I could resist learning a new language. School sux!!! Ten years later, one of the things I wanted to do was learn a new language, and for whatever reason I thought this might be like Swedish or something. But last month I realized I did in fact retain some Spanish. Sure, we spent 75% of those classes conjugating verbs, but hey verbs gotta be conjugated! I got the Duolingo app, and like a lot of things, I used it everyday for a couple weeks and then dropped off. The app even recently sent me a push notification that sounded eerily like a bitter ex, saying “our notifications don’t seem to be working, so we will stop for now.” Anyway, this is a thing I need to get back into, because aprender español es divertido.

4. Another app that I’ve been using most days is called Day One, which gives you a writing prompt/question every day, so that you can keep a digital journal or use it to fuel your writing. I’m trying to keep it up with this one.

5. My mom got me a full-size keyboard for Christmas, which I wanted, meaning that my life has come full circle. When I was younger I played piano, and every time my uncle came over he would tell me to play, which I don’t remember enjoying. When you’re a kid and your brain is developing, it’s the perfect time to learn an instrument or a language and to stick with it, but at this same age you don’t view this as enjoyable, so you stop doing it. Or maybe some kids do see the value of these things at this time, but I was not one of them. I think I just wanted to watch Lizzie McGuire and go on AOL Instant Messenger.

6. I want to start baking now that I have a kitchen that isn’t in a tiny apartment, but I’m intimidated by the idea of having to buy a bunch of baking ingredients and supplies. I’m not the kind of person that regularly buys flour, for example. I googled “easy recipes for baking beginners” and I found a post that said “things to make if you didn’t grow up baking cookies from scratch.” This gave me a sliver of hope, because in my family it was a sin to use ready to bake dough, and especially to buy Chips Ahoy. Although I must admit that even though at family gatherings my grandma would say I baked the chocolate chip cookies, really what this meant was I listened to her instructions and complained about having to stir 8 cups of flour (a typical batch for my grandma consists of about 100,000 cookies). And when my mom says I helped frost the cookies, what this means is that I helped for 20 minutes and then lost patience with the process. Still, it’s a start?

7. I still think the best usage of my podcast-listening time is spent listening to Comedy Bang! Bang!, which deeply annoys my brother and my boyfriend, because I talk about it more than necessary for the former (“another great year of Comedy Bang! Bang! in the books!”) and because it’s not Joe Rogan for the latter. Sure I could be learning science or history or becoming an amateur crime detective, but I would truly rather listen to not real people talk about not real things for an hour and a half.

8. It took me until this winter to realize that even though it’s cold out, you can actually still walk inside. In fact, the type and amount of clothing you wear is directly related to how cold you feel. This may seem obvious but at the same time when it’s below freezing outside, the idea of exercising in those conditions isn’t exactly inviting. But we biked a lot this summer and talked about how we wanted to continue being in shape (in my boyfriend’s case) or semi in shape (in my case) even when it became too cold to bike. We walked on Saturday and it was 36 degrees, which is basically as warm as you could imagine for a January day in Michigan.

9. I currently have 157 notes in my phone app, which I am sure will have only grown by the time this gets posted (okay yes, currently 175). I sort of gave up on organizing them for now, because for me moving and then having a new house means that there has been a constant flow of thoughts in my brain, things I have to do and things I want to buy. It’s kind of like an exhausted parent who is finally just like fine have candy for dinner I don’t care anymore. Writing actual lists on paper that are more categorical has helped somewhat, but alas here I am. Alright, time to make a note to go through my notes.

10. The Baker Mayfield Progressive commercials are objectively funny. The premise that FirstEnergy Stadium aka the Dawg Pound is his home? That’s comedy, I don’t care who you are.

11. The creatures I relate to the most are still babies and dogs. The former often say things that don’t make sense or no one understands, the latter usually do not say anything at all. This is exactly how I am as well. If there’s a party, I will probably say I am too busy watching the baby to socialize. If there is no baby in attendance, I will hide in the corner and pet the dog.

12. Is it summer yet? Sure, walking outside in the cold IS possible, but for some reason 70 degrees seems slightly better than 36. And I don’t know why but flowers and green and sunshine are a little bit more enjoyable than gray skies and everything outside being dead. I want to spend my days outside sitting on a patio set, fully shaded by a gigantic umbrella of course. My mom got us really nice cornhole boards for Christmas and as soon as it gets nice out I plan on mastering the skill, so everyone better watch out.

13. We finally have a king size bed. This has been a thing we’ve talked about for years. Is it necessary? Maybe not, but who wouldn’t want to be able to roll 4 times in their bed without falling off?

14. This year I’m 29 and I was born in 1992; my grandma is going to be 92 and she was born in 1929. There is probably some mathematic explanation for this but who can be sure.

15. I had a banana today and I really should eat fruit more often.

16. Between 2010 and probably around 2014 I would try to see every Academy Award-nominated film each year, and I was also casually watching movies like Citizen Kane in my spare time. Then more recently I went through a phase where I said I didn’t like movies, but in the past month I saw Coming to America, My Cousin Vinny, John Wick 1-3, and some assortment of the Fast & the Furious movies, among other films, all for the first time. I think I like movies again. Although of course this makes me feel like I need to see every movie ever made, which might partly have been what contributed to my seemingly unprovoked dislike of movies to begin with.

17. My favorite kind of flowers are gerbera daisies and sunflowers. This is important because it wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t tell the difference between types of flowers, never mind identify them. I also have a thing about wildflowers and the symbolism associated with them. “All good things are wild and free” (Thoreau) and “wildflowers don’t care where they grow” (Dolly). To me these are good reminders that material things don’t matter and don’t define you. We’re all just little creatures floating around and figuring it out. I’m also trying to resist the urge of getting a tattoo for everything I like, so instead I’m just posting about these things here. I also love the symbolism behind blue birds, and especially the Miranda Lambert song/lyrics: “And if the house just keeps on winning, I got a wildcard up my sleeve. And if love keeps giving me lemons, I’ll just mix ’em in my drink. And if the whole wide world stops singing, and all the stars go dark. I’ll keep a light on in my soul, keep a bluebird in my heart.”

18. I am walking proof that even though you’re 29 and own a home, you still might sleep with a stuffed animal.

19. I miss traveling. Before the pandemic this wasn’t a thing I was really even doing, but I did identify it as something I should prioritize more. I was at the very least occasionally wandering around Detroit, which isn’t a thing I really can do anymore. I work from home, take classes at home, so I mostly stay at home. I’ve gotten so used to it that the other day it struck me that I haven’t explored new places or tried new things in awhile. Admittedly there are still a lot of new things you can do at home: learn to cook, learn a language, learn an instrument. But still, it feels slightly less adventurous when you can do all of these things within the same 4 walls you’re always in. I miss New York and Chicago and Grand Rapids. I want to see mountains and buildings and shops and oceans.

20. We are creatures of habit, and sometimes this means we are creatures of piles. It is a problem that no matter where I live, no matter what my age, I create piles of clothes. I’m not sure why this happens. I don’t think it’s my fault. The piles start off small but keep growing and growing. I could just put the clothes in my laundry basket- I do finally live with a washer and dryer again after all. But what if I only wore this hoodie for 20 minutes? Is it really dirty? But what am I supposed to do, fold it and put it away? Honestly the floor is the only viable option here.

21. I’m currently watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix and it’s great. This could be because I recently watched the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy, but I’m pretty sure they’re the same show, the only differences being in Sons they wear motorcycle helmets and ride bikes to fight their enemies, in Peaky they wear newsboy hats and slowly walk in a horizontal line to really appear intimidating and dramatic.

22. I haven’t worked on my birthday since 2016.

23. Maybe it’s because my arms struggle to carry a light bag of groceries, or because my skin turns red after being in the sun for 5 minutes. But to me there’s something cool about being born in January. This is the one testament to strength I’ve got in my arsenal; one that I had absolutely no control over, and it could be argued that this isn’t actually a testament to strength at all.  But I will argue that it is, because in a way I decided to come alive in the middle of a snowstorm. My entrance into the world involved frigid temperatures and a blizzard. I’m basically an arctic wolf. Or at the very least, an arctic hare.

24. I’ve been writing these for a couple of days but it’s getting harder than I thought to think of anything, so the next few MAY be short.

25. I think dark chocolate and sandwiches are probably the best food groups.

26. A couple weeks ago Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the Spurs, was ejected from a game and assistant coach Becky Hammon took over as head coach, becoming the first woman to act as head coach of an NBA game. Anyway, when asked about this, Gregg Popovich had the best response best ever, similar to everything that he says. Look it up!

27. It was inevitable that moving in to a new home would make me feel like I need to buy a ton of stuff. I’m trying to hold off and use the things I have and spend my time organizing and going through everything here. I already own way too much stuff as it is, so today I went through some papers and I really need to get rid of clothes. Although it’s hard to be a minimalist when you have the mind of a mild hoarder. My therapist told me to be creative with the things that I have, and that the more patience I exercise in getting new stuff, the more value those things will ultimately have. Keeping a list is helpful (and also sometimes not), and most of the items I’ve got on there are really small things that don’t matter much. My mom told me not to buy something unless I really like it, instead of buying just to buy. This is helpful, unless I guess I start to love everything I see, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, because it’s hard to have such strong feelings toward, like, a soap dispenser.

28. I’m pretty sure juice is a blessing and a curse. Same with smoothies.

29. If anyone read all of this nonsense- I am so sorry! But it’s my birthday so I’m allowed to. Thank you and goodbye 🙂


Today on a work video meeting, my team lead asked us to go around and say what we’re thankful for. I immediately felt sick because what am I, supposed to say something genuine?! In front of other people?! I’m not heartless- I just prefer that people view me as such. My MO is that I am a robot that has been programmed to make the occasional joke. Expressing emotions is a kind of vulnerability that I’m not equipped to share. My authentic self IS inauthentic.

For example, this is something I wrote on the day before thanksgiving:

There’s a time for sentimentality (and for me that time is never) but this year has been insane enough, so I think it’s okay to just write about how you’re thankful for, like, space heaters and cereal and the general cultural acceptance of leggings as pants or to be alive during a time where 75 different streaming services exist (do I sound too much like a buzzfeed “article” ?) or for vitamins that are really just a gram of sugar in gummy form but allow us to pretend like we’re eating them for our health.

I’m also thankful for dogs for understanding me way more than most humans. Sidney comes downstairs and hangs out with me a lot now because according to my boyfriend we have bonded and also I think because we both enjoy each other’s company and don’t feel the need to talk to each other every 5 seconds. In fact Sidney hardly talks at all, which is my kind of person.

When I finally had no choice but to share (after everyone else had already gone, because of course I would wait to go last), I said something about how I’m thankful to finally get to move out of my boyfriend’s parent’s house soon, who I’ve been staying with since July. I would rather make a joke than be genuine.

Afterward I felt somewhat guilty. Some of the things my coworkers shared did resonate with me- again my heart isn’t actually black, I just prefer to pretend it is. I am thankful to be able to work during this time and I am grateful for my health and the health of my family. I’m super lucky to have family that’s given me places to stay for the past 6 months. It is truly a luxury to be able to save up to buy a home. And I feel grateful to not have been kicked out yet, even though I am a basement dweller and the laziest and messiest roommate you could have. Also it’s a seller’s market, and having to include 60 days in which we’re not moved in but are making house payments in our offer is not something we would’ve been able to afford if we were also paying rent.

I’m thankful for all the help and support I’ve received throughout the process of buying a home, which turns out, shockingly, is not exactly a fun and easy process. I am grateful to have friends and family that still remain my friends and family even though I never answer the phone and am bad at replying to texts. And I’m thankful for my boyfriend, who is selfless and supportive and has shown me the most pure and basic aspect of a relationship, which is that at the end of the day a partner is someone you want to play catch in the basement with, or something to that effect.

Anyway, the bulk of this post is making me feel sick, so please just pretend the answer to what I’m thankful for was dairy-free ice cream and my Keurig.

iPhone Photos Vol. 1

I have, obviously, been terrible at keeping up with this blog. However, my phone photos (all 9,118 of them) do a much better job of documenting my day to day, even if 95% of them are either of my breakfast or of various dogs. So here some of them are.

I’m an adult. My favorite part is when the milk turns a gray-ish color after some of the artificial coloring of the charms melt off and mix together. Very appetizing.
One of the dogs I hang with, casually chillin in the tub, and some dirty paw prints (may or may not be related). He is the cutest dog and I will not accept otherwise. His name is Colby and he is a golden doodle. He is my mom’s dog which makes him my brother.
Big Oatmeal Energy. Dunkin Donuts iced coffee from Kroger is what’s in the glass. V good. V strong.
I briefly had purple hair, using Keracolor, which is a semi-permanent color that you add as a conditioner on wet or dry hair. I was using a mix of silver and purple for awhile and it made my hair an ashy pastel color. Living my unicorn dreams.
Another dog in my main friend group. She cries when you stop petting her. Her name is Sidney. She is a mix of a few different breeds, she is an old lady and her favorite game is Doughnut.
Non-Dairy ice cream for the win! Honestly I think it might even be better than regular. It also doesn’t hurt that Ben and Jerry’s is one of the few companies that has consistently and clearly spoke out against racial inequality in a real, actionable way.
Awhile back I painted an old frame black and used paint samples (which I’ve never in my life had a shortage of – they’re free AND colorful? 72 please) to make this dry-erase calendar. I’m terrible at drawing but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

That’s all for now, but don’t worry because I have no shortage of nonsensical pictures on my phone that I would love to explain.

Mindfulness and La Croix

There’s this mindfulness exercise that’s used to allow a person to feel more grounded using their senses when they’re having anxiety or a panic attack. You identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. The times I’ve done this before have been during anxious nights, which has served as somewhat of a distraction, although my senses weren’t exactly being stimulated as I laid in a dark room in bed.

I’ve been obsessing over hair dye and hair extensions and tattoos and other fun identity related things that on a rational level I know don’t actually matter, as one does. Earlier today I was driving and Miranda Lambert’s song Bluebird came on and it’s so inspiring and optimistic and makes me feel free until I start thinking I NEED a tattoo about this song and I NEED IT RIGHT NOW.

I’m reading a book (well I’m reading approximately 5 books), that’s called A Million Thoughts by Om Swami. One of my main takeaways so far is the idea of dropping a thought. He describes thoughts as neutral, not good or bad, and that they only have as much power as you give them. Ways we give our thoughts power are by acting on them or simply by not letting them go. Obviously it’s easier said than done. But while I was driving it did come to mind that I really don’t always have to go down the path that is a thought, which overwhelmingly involves never-ending rabbit holes. I dropped the thought and tried to be mindful instead.

Of course being mindful is a thing you should be doing while driving anyway, but so much of this time we just spend on auto-pilot, going through the motions. Instead, I focused on being present and fully experiencing what I was doing, rather than living in my head with my thoughts. I took a sip of my watermelon La Croix, that I partly bought because the can looks nice, and I paid attention to the sweet taste of natural flavor and carbonation. I looked ahead, at the street lights on the highway and the beautiful colors in the sky at sunset, orange and pink and purple. I felt genuine joy when I finally landed upon a song on the radio that I liked (my brother needs to add me back to the family Spotify still and let’s be honest a lot of the radio is either bad or an ad for laser hair removal). I rolled the windows down and felt the breeze that seemed to be signaling that fall is on its way. My mind was clear and I felt at peace (or as much as you can while driving a motor vehicle).

The moral of the story, for myself anyway, is to stop wasting time not dropping my thoughts, when I could be pleasantly aware and appreciative of my surroundings, instead. Obsessive thoughts suck you in, in that something deep inside is telling you that you have to keep thinking about this thing because that’s what’s keeping this thing alive and this thing is important, it’s necessary. If you stop thinking about it, you’re straying from the thought path (rabbit hole) that will lead to accomplishing the “goal.” But these are all just lies and tricks from your mind, of course.

In Om Swami’s book as well as in another book I’m reading, Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a recurring theme is the idea that as humans we repeatedly chase after external rewards and desires that we think will make us happy. And then, when we get them, we are still not satisfied and continue wanting more. I found the frequency at which this idea was mentioned in both books to be pleasantly surprising. This is a struggle I’m often dealing with, thoughts like I need this one thing (tattoo, hairstyle, swim suit, dress, bookshelf, TV show binge-watched, all the books read) right now, and then my identity will be as it’s meant to be and all will be right with the world. Of course it never feels that good, there’s always the next thing and the amount of stress and mind space the whole ordeal took up really wasn’t worth it. But somehow I never realized that this similar to a problem most people contend with, as humans, and it’s just that mine may take slightly more unusual forms.

I’m happy to have found how much reading helps. When you’ve had enough of your own thoughts, just read through someone else’s. Not only does it occupy your mind, but when you’re actually reading about scientific ways to improve the way you think and feel, it’s a win-win (#PsychMajor). Writing is similar, in that it’s a healthy distraction that allows you to better organize and prioritize your thoughts. Instead of immediately needing to own a thing I like, or somehow suddenly have thick hair and a quarter-sleeve, I’m realizing a much less futile way to honor ideas is to write about the things I love, the actual important things. Like La Croix.

Oops I Forgot to Blog

Hello. In the last 3 weeks since I posted, we finally moved out of our terrible apartment and into my boyfriend’s dad’s basement while we look for houses. It has been… interesting. I have strategically spent some time each week at my mom’s, which is an hour drive and alarmingly similar to the drives of my childhood between my mom’s and dad’s houses.

I had to go to the dentist, again, for my temporary crown, and have to return for my permanent. Everything is such a process. I also had a gynecologist appointment and I’m sharing this because preventative care is still important even in a pandemic – the main difference just being that now the doctors aren’t the only ones wearing masks. Am I the only one that, when given a cup to pee in, obediently takes it into the bathroom with me knowing full well I just woke up and went 5 minutes ago and will be giving back an empty cup? Very unfair because any other time I pee constantly. When will I learn.

We also went to my best friend’s wedding, (it was small, and outdoors, there were masks, also I social distance regardless of a pandemic), I gave a speech and I didn’t die. I did, however, slightly black out from nerves so I am not fully sure how it went, but my boyfriend said it was good and he’s not biased at all. I made jokes and people laughed. I was sentimental and made people cry. I stayed up till 4am 2 nights in a row and realized I’m not 21 anymore. I realized for the 100th time I don’t take enough pictures. But at the same time, spending an entire day without remembering your cell phone is a good day.

During all this wedding stuff I’ve been rediscovering the value of female friendships. The weekend before last, the bridesmaids went to my friend’s house for her makeshift bachelorette party at her pool. The word “cute” was used 70,000 times, mostly by me. Women support women. It might not seem life-changing to say nice things to another woman, but I truly believe it effects change on an even greater level than that.

Also, as an obsessive person that sees a thing and instantly feels like I need the thing (an outfit, a specific tattoo placement, a different swim suit, etc) I found the value in just appreciating these things on other people. Complimenting them, realizing that your taste isn’t defined by your possessions, but literally by what you like and don’t like and your preferences. Admire the thing for the thing, but it doesn’t have to be more than that.

See the world with kind eyes – including yourself.

Before the wedding, we all got ready together. If one girl didn’t have something, another girl did. I am terrible at doing make-up but the other bridesmaids didn’t hesitate to do mine as if it was their own. One girl contoured my face, giving me angles for days, another put on my magnetic lashes that the bride bought for me to use. Curling irons were passed around, make-up was dumped out of endless bags and shared. Girls said they don’t own very much make-up while simultaneously unpacking 10 pounds of it.

Just when I thought I wasn’t adequately doing my part, as someone who brought mascara, chapstick, and a eyebrow pencil for make-up, at MOST, I gave one of the bridesmaids a tampon and Excedrin. This is the kind of girl I want to be, and that we should all be. I want to show up with compliments and encouragement and something you may need in my bag, at the ready.

Talking with a group of girl friends provides a level of release and relief that you get from sharing your thoughts and feelings with people who are similar to you, with people who get it. We talked about mental health openly and with ease. We just as easily talked about gross stuff our boyfriends wouldn’t understand as we did when discussing good deals at Kohl’s. It took me awhile to realize we should be sharing these things with each other, but here I am and it feels good.

Well, I have to go finish (start) a 10-page paper single-spaced, or as I like to call it, a 20-page paper. Happy August 🙂

PS. Three recent observations:

All these years later and the sound of cicadas in late July still make me feel like I really need to start my AP homework.

At what point of grad school do you stop googling the difference between affect and effect and needing help from Purdue OWL for citations?

I’ve made a tradition of doing my taxes April 15th, or when there’s a global pandemic and we get an extension till July 15th, I do them July 15th. (And by do my taxes I mean nicely ask my Grandma or boyfriend to help me do my taxes, which means to please do them for me because my brain doesn’t understand tax forms.)

Look Up

When you’re laying on the floor in a nearly empty apartment – because moving is tiring even for those of us that defer the bulk of the work to the strong people – don’t forget to look up ✌🏼

Two First Names

Photo by Allie on Unsplash

Something I often say to myself, in my head, is “I have 2 first names and 0 clue what I’m doing.” This is because my inner self truly thrives on jokes and self-deprecation. My inner self gets it.

My birth name was Katelyn, or at least this is the way I always assumed it was spelled, but could possibly have been 1 of the other 100 variations. (Update: when I asked my mom if this was the way it was going to be spelled, she gave me a bewildered look and said “No. K-A-I-T-L-Y-N.” Who knew.) Two days later my name was Katrina but I was never called this. I was always intended to be called Katie and every first day of school meant telling the teacher “I go by Katie.” A very fun process. If before reading this you assumed Katrina and Katie were in no way related, you were only half wrong. They really aren’t related in the scheme of things, but they are my two first names.

When I was 21 and started my internship, and when I was 23 and began working at my first real job, I truly forgot to mention my name situation. So at my internship for 4 months, and at my previous job for the short length of 42 months, I was called Katrina. This made for some awkward situations, like being told “I couldn’t find you on Facebook,” responding “it’s under Katie,” and being met with a look like, “why?” Probably more unfortunate was working with my mom’s friend, who had always known me as Katie, and had to awkwardly navigate the question of what to call me depending on the situation.

At the job I started in November, I made a VERY conscious effort to make sure everyone called me Katie. Still, I’ve learned to embrace both names. People have apologized for accidentally calling me Katrina without knowing, or asked if they should change my work email, but I’ve told them that at this point both Katie and Katrina are my names. I tend to go by Katrina at appointments or in school and exclusively use this name on any kind of paperwork to avoid confusion. My therapist, who arguably knows me better than most, calls me Katrina, and this seemed to be the least of things I needed to tell her. In calling me that, she’s not wrong.

Hair Stories

Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

I didn’t get hair until I was 3 years old. My head was very large and very bald. I got many compliments, such as “what a cute baby boy.” I still find myself impressed when a baby is born with a full head of hair. Their heads figured out what mine could not for 3 years. And honestly their hair is still much thicker than mine is now.

Hair thickness was an idea that frequently occupied my teenage mind. I often wondered what would it be like to live in an alternate universe where I had full, voluminous hair. (I do recognize the sheer privilege that allowed THESE to be the things that I wondered about.) My hair was (is) very thin. Looking back at old pictures to investigate my natural hair color, it’s still hard to tell. In some pictures it looks dark blonde, some light brown. It’s been described as dirty blonde, or gold, or the color of hay, or my personal favorite (it’s not) dishwater blonde.

When I was 16 my best friend and I went to CVS to buy box dye. I wanted my hair to be dark brown. We got back to my house and my mom found the hair dye and hid it. For a mom this means, “you’re still a kid and once you start dyeing your hair it’s hard to go back and that’s a lot of money and hair damage and you’ll even get to a point where you have to look at pictures to remember your natural hair color.” To a teenager this means, “your mom said you can’t so you have to do this even more now – go buy another box and go to your friend’s house now and dye it.”

I dyed my hair brown and as my friend blow dried it I expected it to lighten up but it stayed close to the same color as it was when it was wet. I was elated. My hair was a medium golden brown and everybody loved it. That lasted for 5 days. It then faded to a coppery-red, because you know, box dye. After that I started going to the salon with my mom, where the same hairdresser would do both of our hair. She is a family friend and really great but a talker. The whole experience would last at least 5 hours and I got why my mom hid the box dye.

My best friend likes to tell the story of the first time I cut my bangs. I was 15 and mad at the world for whatever reason 15 year-olds are. As much as it somehow seemed like it would at the time, cutting the hair straight across my forehead didn’t necessarily make anything better. My friend had to fix them for me, which was a really difficult task. I had side bangs for the next 5 years, which luckily were in style. The last time she brought this up, her fiance’s friend asked, this is a thing teenage girls would do?, meanwhile his wife nodded knowingly.

The second time I cut my bangs, two years later, it wasn’t out of anger but genuinely because I thought I could just trim my existing side bangs. Except what can sometimes happen is that I kept cutting and cutting until parts of them were SO short. This time around involved a lot of thick headbands to hide the pieces of hair that were only mere centimeters long. It is possible that even after this second time I made a few cuts to my bangs here and there, but lately I mainly just stick with hair salons.

There have been times when I have fallen into an absolute panic because I got my hair done and I thought it was too blonde or too red or too whatever. More recently, the look I’m mainly going for is grown out roots (kidding, sort of). I’m lucky that the balayage method/look of coloring hair is an option that basically every salon is doing now. When I go to a new hairdresser and mention fully changing the color, they take one look at how long I’ve clearly gone without getting it done (usually at least 6 months), and gently suggest that I maybe just stick to an option that allows for a more natural grow-out. I am glad to live in a time where grown-out roots are more acceptable.

Sometimes I look at old pictures of my hair and wish it was a certain way again and think about changing it, going blonder or darker (or a cool grayish purple), as my hair has somewhat settled into its dishwater blonde roots. Maybe someday I will, but if there’s one thing that all of these experiences have tried to painstakingly teach me, time and time again, is that it truly does not matter. Hair is just hair is just hair.