Note to Self : Why the Fact That My Hair is Pink Matters

As we were signing off from a text message

that was quickly reaching past 11pm, a friend said, "Rest easy. Maybe the pink hair gives you a bump in the artistic direction." 

The "rest easy" part came because I had shared with her the fact that I wasn't able to sleep past 4 am earlier that day because the day before I had dyed my hair pastel pink. 

The "bump in the artistic direction" came because she had been praising the work I have been doing through my daily kitchen illustration project  {#myillustratedkitchen on Instagram}. 

And her text made me smile because she is one of those people who we all need in our lives: they can be forthright, they can be funny, but most often they just encourage you and make you smile.  

But as I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't my pink hair giving me some special artistic magic.

It was the opposite.

It is the fact that I grew up wanting to be an artist but never having the courage or self-confidence to even admit that outloud. It is the fact that I have always been worried about how people perceive me and what people think. It is the fact that growing up in a small town, I tried my hardest to fit into the "nice (if slightly nerdy) girl" box: long blonde hair, blue eyes, doesn't say a lot but smiles plenty, and doesn't mind it when someone looks over her shoulder on the civics test.

It's only been since I've been intentionally pursuing art

over the past year that the desire to stay in that box has dissipated. And I'm still nice. And I still smile a lot. But the desire to look and (and more importantly) act a certain way that is expected is less of a steering force in my life. 

{Notice I said, "less". I would not have gotten up at 4am if I didn't care about certain people's reaction. }

Part of my experience with not just making art but actively seeking out opportunities to show it or sale it or have it published has made me more courageous. And that's the things about living in the "nice girl" box- it's safe. No one is going to attack you for being the nice girl.

But people might attack you

if they see you doing something that they don't think is appropriate. Friends, family, or random internet or coffee shop strangers may see what you're doing, immediately dismiss your work and say, "she just paints flowers." Those same people may condone you for painting instead of going to the library with your son. Or they may make light of accomplishments that you poured your heart and soul into. Or they may totally ignore it.

And the chance of all these things happening is scary... until they happen. You realize that instead of immediately dying of a broken heart you have a cut. Sometimes it's minor emergency that requires the attention of other people, but more often than not it's an annoying (ie. painful but harmless) papercut.  

Claiming my title

as an artist has helped me realize how tough I can be and every time I revive a cut I step a bit farther from that box. Because people can't make a difference while trapped in a box. And that's part of why we're here, right? 

I got pink hair because I've wanted to have bubblegum pink hair for a while but I've always been too afraid. Growing less afraid, stepping away from the box, allowing my courage to give me the artistic bump I need: those are the reasons I should rest easy.