“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou
Before I joined DECA, I really had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I was perfectly content graduating high school and becoming a chef or something similar, continuing life on only a high school diploma. I walked around in America’s Next Top Model sweatpants and Birdville t-shirts, and had no further hopes for myself. Then, when my high school career began, I realized just how much image can change how people think about you. Sad but true, the way you look can be the difference between popular and unpopular. It can mean you’re beat up every day, like I was, or revered as the prettiest girl in school.
|Best picture to show the length of my extensions
(at one of my favorite spots in Disneyland while in CA for ICDC)
When I was little, I would look at girls in magazines with long shiny hair and tall, slim bodies and think that it was the picture of perfection. As a child model, I bleached my hair blonde for years, to the point where, now, I have a slight keratin deficiency. This means my hair and nails don’t grow at a normal rate, and they both break and look fried frequently.
So, since my sophomore year, I have been wearing hair extensions. Most people at school know I have them, because they witnessed my transformation years ago from a chubby, brace faced freshman to the 5’8, long haired, still socially awkward girl I am today. However, the majority of the people in DECA, and at the BCTAL, and those who haven’t known me since Freshman year, do not know about the changes I have gone through over the last three years to be the person I am today.
|Visiting Las Vegas my Freshman year with Mom.|
I can clearly remember the day I truly realized how much image mattered; the girl I considered my best friend starting high school sent me a laundry list of things I needed to change about myself before I would be “forgiven” (for what, I still don’t know) and allowed to be a part of her group again. It hit me like a ton of bricks, realizing how truly mean people, specifically girls, could be.
So for the next three years, as I learned everything I could about leadership, social media, networking and more, I spent my extra energy basically changing my whole persona. Within a period of a year, I’d lost 30 pounds, had my braces taken off, got my extensions. I went from the overbearing, loud mouthed, busy body in the back of the room that the majority of people in my grade refused to be seen with to a more reserved, professional, well dressed student leader, being told I would one day lead the country (imagine the size of my ego as I decided to run for National Office). But I realized, during this time, that I was destined for greater things, besides becoming a chef. I found out my passion, my strengths, where I wanted to go to school. I gained my purpose, because of my transformation.
|My hair recently without extensions.|
Sometimes, I look back and wonder if it was all worth it. If I’d stayed the person I was back then, who would I be? If I hadn’t spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars of my parents money on hair, tanning, makeup and clothing, what would I look like? If I hadn’t worked on controlling my tongue, becoming a better leader, would I have all the friends I have today? These are all questions I can’t answer. I don’t know what I’d look like, who I’d be, who I have in my life.
For now, the best I can hope for is going back to the basics. As graduation nears, college approaches, and sleep is becoming more and more precious, I’m beginning to realize that spending an hour and a half to get ready every morning may not be the best of plans. So I’m simplifying my routine, going back to short, natural hair and less makeup. I’ve stopped tanning, stopped worrying about loosing weight. For now, I just want to be me. I want to just BE the person I’ve become, instead of trying to continue evolving into someone else.
Today, I’m just Holly. Not Officer Holly. Not Leader Holly. Not fashionista Holly.