Today, I died my hair pink. I’m a brunette, so not the cotton candy, bubble gum hue you can achieve as a blonde, but pink and proud nonetheless. So why is this interesting or worth writing about? Well, it’s the reasons I didn’t die my hair pink before that I find fascinating enough to share.

When I told my Mom a few weeks ago that I was dying my hair pink she gasped loudly and blurted out “What?! Why would you want to do something like that?!” That reaction from my Mom, and the one I anticipated getting from others, is what kept me from embracing the urge to get playful with pink.

I thought a lot about this as quarantine set in, alongside many other elements of my life that I put under a microscope. I was asking myself, “What am I so afraid of?” I went back and forth so many times on doing it or not doing it, when I realized it wasn’t that I was unsure if I wanted to do it, I was unsure if I “should” do it.

I was afraid of what people might think and questioning if it was going too far. What would it say about me as a person? What assumptions might people make about me?

There in my mind swirled fearful stories about what would ensue for me if I made this fun, harmless change. I predicted my clients would no longer think I was professional and I would lose work. What would my neighbors think? Would people think I was struggling and on the brink of a meltdown as a recent divorcee? They might say, “Marisa’s gone Britney on us.”

I realized, I, like so many other women, have been told for so long what I should look like or how I should live that when it comes to big choices, it can be hard to act on and own my perceived unpopular decisions without some sort of approval.

We have been forced (and subconsciously self imposed) into such small boxes that we’ve become afraid to live wild and free in the expansiveness of ideas and ways of being that exist outside those confines. So many of us have been conditioned to stay small, that we wouldn’t dare be bold or loud, because it might make someone uncomfortable.

The truth is, I’ve never felt more alive and in touch with myself. I’m ready to move beyond fear, even in the middle of such unrest, uncertainty, and transformation in our society. I feel so deeply inspired by the courageous stories emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ Pride month, that I too want to stand in my own identity, at least in small ways. I too want to break free from outdated ideas designed to control people and keep them down. Shouldn’t I want to celebrate feeling empowered and inspired toward change on the inside, with my outward appearance?

So, I quieted my mind, turned inward and checked myself, “Marisa, c’mon it’s just hair! Who cares?!” And that inner voice was right! So, I decided that as an act of celebration of freedom and and let’s be honest, rebellion against the world of expectations placed on me each day, to embrace my own voice and reclaim a small part of my identity.

I showed up to the hairdresser excited but also nervous. I knew all of my fears were just in my mind, but they were still present. Nevertheless, I decided to go honor my inner self and celebrate life in this small way, and it feels fantastic! It’s amazing how uplifting one small act of liberation can be.

So for now I forge ahead with my big dreams and pink hair as a reminder to get comfortable being a little more messy and wild, and to continue to follow my intuition and joy down whatever path it leads me.