CHERRY: Almost cut my hair

By Scott Cherry Community Caseworker for Meceola Big Brothers Big Sisters

The way I remember it, I was sent up-town to get my hair cut a few days before starting kindergarten. The barber gave me a haircut that was popular with kids at the time, something very short. When he finished he twirled me around so that I could witness his handy work in the mirror that covered the wall. I looked in the mirror and was terrified. All I saw was a huge nose framed by two mammoth ears — a human elephant. I ran home and cried myself to sleep behind my dad’s chair vowing that when I got old enough I would never cut my hair again.

I grew up and I have cut my hair a few times — but only when I wanted to and only on my own terms. Hair came to represent an outward expression of how I saw myself. It became a way to express my uniqueness, to — in the words of Crosby, Stills, and Nash — “let my freak flag fly." I like my long hair and have never placed much value on the opinions of others regarding my hair. If you don’t like it, don’t grow yours long. My hair is part of my personal definition of “cool," nothing more and nothing less.

We all have our own personal definition of “cool," that picture in our head of how we see ourselves and think that others see us. We use this definition and all of our experiences to create a mental picture of what we dream our life should be like. We wish for a personal paradise for ourselves, the perfect “me” living the perfect life. Some of us are satisfied with how things are turning out. Others spend their energy looking back on what happened in the past, wishing for how things might have been or longing for how they wish things could be. No matter what, we are all trying to find our own personal paradise and to live up to our personal definition of “cool." Some of us are not very concerned with the opinions of others but some of us are dominated by them. Some of us use others to verify and validate our personal definition of “cool."

Children especially use the opinions of others to help them develop what “cool” is to them and how they can appropriately express their uniqueness. They are great at reading the verbal and non-verbal messages that others are giving them whenever they do anything. Children turn these messages into tools that they can use to develop their perfect “me” and their perfect life. They can take a human elephant and create an interesting long haired strong-willed man or they could turn that human elephant into a person who is terrified to leave their home.

Children need guides who can help them find their uniqueness without fear and to develop their own ideas of what the perfect life will be for them. Someone like you volunteering as a Big Brother or a Big Sister.

Scott Cherry is a Community Caseworker for Meceola Big Brothers Big Sisters. He can be reached at meceolacaseworker@midmichiganbbbs.org