It was a fall night when I looked at myself in the mirror, tears flooding my eyes. One rolled off my bottom lash, splashing against my cheek. It slowly rolled off into my philtrum, diffusing into my top lip. I blinked hard – so hard I saw rainbow coloured patterns dancing around, hypnotising me. One after the other, tears rolled down my face, following the same rhythm; off into my philtrum, then dissolving into my top lip. One, two, three. One, two, three and four. And lastly, five. I stood looking at myself in the mirror, analysing myself. An orange aura glided off my burnt and bleached scalp. My long hair covered my shoulders, like a willow hanging in the breeze. I look over at the clock. Then, I count:

Twenty-seven, twenty-six, twenty-five… I take a deep breath, briefly drifting my eyes away to wipe my wet cheeks and drowning eyes. Fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven… I grab the scissors from the sink. Seven, six… I open the scissors. Three, two, one, snap. Four seconds have passed, and now I’m nineteen, I look down into my sink, the strands of yellowish – orange hair I had just impulsively cut off staring right back at me. I brush my hand through my shoulder length hair, admiring yet regretting the decision. I grab the right side of my hair and chop it off as well. Snap. Another pile of hair falls into the sink. I look up, my cheeks covered in dried up tears, and me, looking like a clown.

An array of questions begin to hammer my heart. Why have I done this? Who is this girl in my picture? For the past 365 days, I have felt as if I am still irresponsible; that I needed to finally become an adult, go to university, get a job, move out and start paying bills. And though I have accomplished all of these things, something inside still tells me I am a child. This frame of mind haunts me especially as I walk down the street, wearing a cute beanie and brightly painted nails, seeing girls my age looking me up and down – probably thinking, “Who is this girl…” I feel alienated. However, 20 seconds ago, I stabbed that “child” through the heart. I’m 19 and I’m gonna start acting like it.

But in the morning when I walk down the street, the same girls look at me momentarily, then look away. They whisper to each other, look me up and down and giggle. They know I’m still a child inside, and so do I. I can cut my hair unevenly, get a tattoo, get new piercings, but still, the shallowness of others would continue to haunt me. After all the effort I attempt to put in, all I would hear from them is, “You’ve changed… You look different.” Then never again. Not a single word about my appearance and I would just feel like a used up toy thrown away like I’m nothing. And yet again, I still refer to myself as a child-like item. Why an item? I can just be a 13 year old in a 19 year old body. No. I want to grow up – Rebirth myself in a way. Maybe that’s why I actually want to do it. I want people to see that, in a sense, I could start off life again being different. I do look different. 

But maybe it’s obvious I’m still not ready to take that big leap of faith just yet. I’m still not ready to change my beanies and cat sweaters just to please the other girls I see on the street. Deep down, I know soon enough, I will be reborn. I will grow out of my shell. Though right now, I believe I just need to stay in my own little shell – even if that means going onto 20, still recounting the same habits, and looking like a yellowish – orange haired clown. In the end, following my own journey of rebirth is what matters.

Written by Maria Secara and edited by Sofia Oblefias. Published on 4/6/2023. Header image by Sarah Shin.

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