Opinion | My high school hairas (hair eras, get it?)

Opinion | My high school hairas (hair eras, get it?)

Anthony Orsi, Guest Writer

I am sure many of you will have heard the words “high school will either be the best or worst four years of your life.” I certainly have, and it seems to be a common belief with older generations. It seems silly to use such an overgeneralization, as everything in life has its ups and downs. My high school experience has changed wildly from year to year, and thus calling it the “best” or “worst” part of my life so far is impossible. Between moving from Boston and not knowing anyone to doing a significant part of high school online, the past four years have all been radically different. The best way for me to document this is by going through my four different hair eras (hairas, for lack of a better word).

The first year of high school was probably the hardest. I had just moved from Boston, and lacking the relationships many of my peers had made in middle school, I felt isolated for the first few weeks. This year was marked by my side part and short pink hair that was dyed in one of my friends’ bathtubs. The pink hair year was all about adjustment: adjusting to higher-level classes, making new friends and having a lot of pressure put on me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Preparing for college, and even for life after college, was emphasized very strongly by teachers and counselors alike, which set the stage for a fair amount of stress down the road. For some reason, I wanted to go into medicine, so I spent more time learning about science than other subjects. My pink hair represented an attempt to stand out from people who were going through the same motions I was. In a word, it represented distinctiveness. Once Covid-19 happened, my hair went through some transformations.

My sophomore year led to me taking control of my life, from my education, surroundings, to, yes, my hair. The next haircut was born out of necessity. It was not about style; it was a very matter-of-fact choice due to a lack of available barbers. I gave myself a buzz cut late one night in my bathroom. Looking back, this was by far my worst haira. Barber shops were not the only thing that closed, so I started baking, cooking, growing plants, and ditching Zoom class to go on walks and runs. Despite looking pretty foolish, I felt like I had taken charge of my life and my priorities. Even though I was not trying to be unique, my hair stood out (despite the many other people who shaved their heads for similar reasons). Halfway through 2021, I decided to grow out my hair.

This decision made way for my hairstyles for the last two years of high school. What I was never told about growing out my hair was that it would look horrible for the first several months. So there I was, starting my junior year with a weird, spiky, middle-parted mop on my head. I wish I could say this somehow represented my attitude, but it was just ugly.

Eventually, it grew out to a good length and it stayed nice and layered for the remainder of that year. With my last two years of high school came a lot of stress. There is obviously a lot of pressure to get into a “good” school, and with acceptance rates dropping each year, this pressure only rises. I grew out my hair as a response to this pressure. Between stressing about the unknowns of college applications and the coursework that was becoming increasingly more difficult, I wanted to have some concrete results to look forward to. I knew that, eventually, after all of the awkward stages, my hair would look the way I wanted it to. Besides this, I just thought that long hair would look good on me.

Even now, I am considering how to get my hair cut in just a few days, as the stress from the end of the year has taken its toll. My hair at this moment is flat, not layered, and rather helmet-like. This just goes to show how much someone can change in high school, so to ETHS classes of ‘24, ‘25, ‘26, and so on: don’t be afraid to try new things.