I used to hate the word unique. As a child, I was constantly referred to as “the U word” and always thought it was the nicest way of calling someone an outsider, but I’ve recently realized that it’s an easy way of labeling something you don’t necessarily understand. After reflecting on my life to help shape my future plans, I’ve come to the conclusion that no one would ever call me an outsider. Labeling me as unique was their way of telling me they didn’t understand all the puzzle pieces that make up my personality and choices.

These last three months, I’ve accepted that people will always call me “unique” for an array of reasons. My colorful and somewhat uncommon extracurriculars, my passionate nature, but one that I got stuck on is my constant hair dying. Sure, not everyone has dyed their hair upwards of 15 times by the second semester of their senior year, but I didn’t understand why I did it until I realized I didn’t know the answer.

I dyed my hair for the first time in 6th grade, but I only got highlights put into my already blonde hair. The first time I actually changed the way I looked was in 8th grade when I went root to tip, fire hydrant red. I wasn’t expecting what resulted, but after three and a half years of “what color are you doing next?” I finally understand why it’s safe to assume there’s a color coming next even though I always insist there isn’t.

My hair is a calendar. After every fallout with a friend, every breakup, even when I didn’t make the Rose Court, I dyed my hair to move on; to start a new chapter in the biography I live every day. Dying my hair became a representation of rising above the negative experiences in my life. I am no longer “That Girl with the Navy Hair” and I am not who I was yesterday. Every day I wake up, I’m a more educated, better version of myself. Life has highs and lows, but whenever I get down, I dye my hair to bring myself back up again. When people see me, they see a girl who dyes her hair because she gets bored, but it’s not just a color for me, it’s a new beginning.

Red hair wasn’t inherently unusual to me because it was my everyday reality, but someone who channels their individuality through a passion for pole vaulting might not understand my choices or rationale. Through changing colors on my head, I’ve lived my life in different lights. Dying my hair has only helped me shape my perspective of myself and this ever-changing world.

Lizzie Bromley