So when I started my new job back in April, I wanted to make a clean break and a fresh start. Working in the corporate world, I was expected to dress professionally, act professionally and not do anything that might reflect badly on the corporation. My former boss even “had a discussion” with me about the henna I would wear on my hands occasionally. (I had a side business and had to advertise – long story)
So when I started working in an University environment, I thought it was time to go crazy. I planned on getting my nose pierced, my hair streaked with pink, even maybe a tattoo. I was going to embrace my inner artist, I’d become the funky writer chick, and be that cool person everyone was like “Wow, that Jamie, she’s an author! And boy does she look the part!”
Except I didn’t. I chickened out. The nose ring looked like it would be too painful. Besides, who wants a bump of scar tissue in your nostril? I couldn’t commit to a tattoo – what would I get? Would I still love it when I was 80? Where would I put it? Even the streaked hair didn’t happen. I *intended* to get bright red streaks…but they turned sort of soft auburn when I actually went to the hair dresser.
I was so disappointed in myself. I wanted to look like that fun, funky person I imagine myself to be. I wanted to look the way I thought writers *should* look. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do what I felt like I needed to look the part. I even hate wearing skirts – especially the hippy chick kind that I imagine “authors” wear. And ugh – I can’t stand the smell of patchouli!
But then I realized – being a writer isn’t about what you look like, it’s about what you say. When it comes down to it, writing is a solitary pursuit, and while a lot of us have jobs or kids, most people never see us while we’re wearing our “writing hats.” So, really, what does it matter what color your hair is, except for how it makes you feel?
Writing is not about breaking social norms with your appearance (though sometimes it can help or be fun), it’s about using your words to create something memorable, challenging, or life-altering. And you don’t need a nose ring to do that – you just need to believe in yourself and your writing. And then put your butt in that chair and write it! If that means you wear Chanel No. 5, or PJ bottoms, or a business suit, it doesn’t matter – as long as you WRITE. I need to remember that when I’m getting down on myself for not being that free-spirited writer chick I think I should be.
But someday I swear I’m getting those pink streaks, dammit!