I never thought the sounds of a hair clipper would so fundamentally alter my life. I can’t remember the exact reason’s why I wanted a Mohawk, but I got it for the first time the summer before freshman year.
At first when having a Mohawk I was still the same kid as when I didn’t have it. I still hung out with the same friends and did the same things.
I remember the exact moment that all changed though. I was at the mall shopping and I realized people were staring at me. I thought they were just staring at me because I was different, but then I noticed they were watching me. Not only watching me but, every move I made, I was being watched as if I was a thief. And this didn’t only happen once. It happened everywhere I went.
This experience had such an impact on me it altered my way of thinking. The fact that I was different had made me odd to others, but those people not being different made them odd to me. And I thought this way for a while, but soon the misperceptions of being a ****-up me became who I was. And I didn’t even realize these changes were happening to me. In one year I had been suspended, kicked out of my home, lost all of my friends, started smoking weed and doing drugs. I had hit rock bottom at the age of 14.
And even though all of that happened to me, I am glad it did; non-conformity in a society that is hell bent on conformity made me what I am today. Because in all of my confusion with self identity, clarity eventually overcame my thoughts of it. Now I believe that in America, even though we say that we are free of prejudices and judgment, we really are not. We might even do it now more than ever. I know people won’t change and I’m ok with that.
I have changed. Once more the sounds of those hair clippers have changed my life; for better or worse, I don’t know yet. But I shaved off that Mohawk.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.