When I was 22 years old I cut off most of my hair.
It was in a salon, just hours before my flight to India. I didn't know how long I would be gone or when I would be coming back.
I remember staring at my long, golden locks in the mirror thinking about how much I had identified myself with my hair. Men often complimented me on it. It made me feel beautiful.
But it was also a place where I would hide. I remember when my skin broke out in cystic acne and all the products and creams I used stopped working all together. To feel comfortable going outside, I put on layers of makeup and let my hair cover most of my face.
I remember hiding behind my hair in class, hoping the teacher wouldn't call on me, terrified that my voice would shake if I was asked to speak...
But in the moments before boarding my plane to India, I knew I was done with hiding.
I stood looking in the mirror and thought, "What if I cut it all off?"
It was like standing on the edge of a cliff. I felt tingles from my toes run up my shins.
It took courage to take the leap I was about to take, to travel half-way around the world without an end date or a plan...
I would be entering a place where no one knew me. I realized, I could be anyone I wanted to be.
And I was ready to stop hiding.
So I walked into the closest salon and told her to cut my hair to a boy-short length.
I watched as the golden locks hit the floor, wondering how men would look at me now, and how I would feel about myself when I looked in the mirror. I wondered if I had made a mistake.
But then I realized how brave I was in making a conscious choice to leave my insecurities about my appearance behind.
"I am doing this for myself and no one else. I am doing this to see my own inner radiance," I told myself.
I took these before and after pictures in the salon mirror...
Walking out, I ran my fingers through my new short cut, tied a scarf around my head and hours later, boarded my flight into the unknown.
More photos from my first week in India at Amma's ashram in Kerala, 2011:
As self-conscious as I was in my first weeks with short hair, it was also incredibly liberating. It helped me drop the identity of the person I had been up to that point, and helped me stop trying to put on an appearance for the outside world.
It helped me reconnect to a love within myself and for myself, that had nothing to do with my appearance.
I share this with you today to remind you of your own inner radiance.
Where have you been relying too much on your outer appearance?
I don't think we all need to go as extreme as cutting off all our hair - but what if you chose not to wear makeup for a day? Or wore your hair pulled back, away from your face?
A simple act like that is for you and no one else. May it help you remember that at your core and your essence, you are pure radiance.
P.S. This story is also a scene from my upcoming book about my travels in India. Stay tuned for more stories like this coming out this month...<3