“Where the hell did my hair go?!” I desperately wondered as I stared back at myself in the salon mirror. I barely recognized the girl looking back with shoulder-length hair. It wasn’t Jennifer Aniston when she said goodbye to all those layers. Or my latest girl crush, Sophia Amoruso, whose short dark fringe gives her that extra edge. It was just Annie in horrible lighting after a long week… without one of her most prized possessions.

In instant remorse, I wanted to quickly scoop up all of the chocolate-colored locks that lay on the floor around me and somehow make them part of me again. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the long waves that used to cascade down my back and hang loosely from my shoulders. And I mean, yes, maybe it was full of split-ends caused by neglect and abuse from a drugstore travel-sized blow dryer that I never replaced after my full-sized one died (so sorry, hair), but this much?! I thought I only agreed to an inch or so, but as I blabbed on about my blog to the new hairdresser, I didn’t notice that things were getting out of control until it was too late.

A curt “Thanks,” was all I could mutter to her as I stood from the chair. Yeah, thanks but no thanks. I wanted to get the hell out of there. It was one of those panics where you go straight into the “Everything’s going to be okay” mode as if I was going to go home and magically my hair would be longer. But actually, I really thought it would… I could not get home to my clip-in extensions fast enough.

Storming to my car, I hurriedly texted friends notifying them that a hair tragedy would keep me from going out, including a warning text to my office mate. I needed to alert him of the depression he could expect Monday morning, and his response made me feel mildly better:

Girl, you’re gorgeous. Shorter hair will just let people see your pretty face better. Shoulder length isn’t even that short. This will probably just help with your inverted push-ups and whatnot.

Aw. Yeah, maybe.

But we gotta get a glam shot for Tinder with your hair so no one is surprised…

Oh my god. He had a great/scary point.

But in the back of my mind I still thought I could fake long hair. Arriving home, I ran straight to my bedroom, grabbed the clip-in extensions and anxiously parted my hair to fasten them in place. But it was no use. Not even my trusty extensions worked anymore. There was a huge three inch gap, making it impossible to pull off. Feeling defeated, and in need of a drink, I texted him back:

I think I’m pausing Tinder til I down a bunch of fish oil for a few months. Like, I even need new, shorter extensions 🙁

And I know this all probably sounds terribly dramatic. There are people in the world – like my bald father – who don’t have hair. But my mind raced with insecurities and worries about what the change in my appearance would mean. Other people’s reactions echoed through my mind, like irritating coworker interactions Monday morning: “Oh, you cut your hair?!” Yep, unfortunately. Even stupid Scottsdale problems crossed my mind: “Will anyone talk to me at the bar… will clubs even let me in?!” Shortly followed by, “Thank god I don’t have any crushes currently.”

Worst of all, my own identity issues resurfaced. Having long hair for as long as I can remember, minus one brief/weird “I want to look more like a golfer” phase sophomore year of high school, it felt like a part of me. Though annoying, twirling it was second-nature, and the shiny, thick tresses blanketed me not only from cold shoulders but from insecurities about my skin, smile, premature wrinkles, and so much more. I could be having one of those “I have feel like a drag queen” days when makeup feels like it’s sitting on top of my skin and my muscles seem masculine, but at least I had my long hair. It could soften my look and elevate my mood with just a few minutes of curling, making me feel like the cute, feminine girl I knew as Annie.Without it, how would I be me?

Well, yesterday I survived my first day of short hair. And it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was reading#GIRLBOSS which chronicles how the most badass brunette is taking over the fashion world, short hair and all. Or maybe it was the red lipstick I sported with a black pleather crop top and denim cut-offs on the dance floor of the clubs that (surprise, surprise) still let me in. As I whipped my hair back and forth (yeah, guilty) it was freeing to feel the strands brush past my face like the tassels of a flapper dress. It was also nice not to brush out knots before bed.

In the same way that I pretend like my lipgloss gives me superpowers when applying it before important meetings and blind dates, I’m using my short hair as my Girl Boss uniform. Not in one of those radical bra-burning feminist ways, but in the sassy, self-confident, and in control sense. It’s time for less twirling and curling hair and more tackling and creating awesome stuff. And feeling more exposed also makes you feel more like, “This is me – take it or leave it.”Which is why I’m starting to agree with my office mate’s response when I sent him that text about taking a break from Tinder until my hair grows back:

Psh life is too short for that. If they don’t love you when someone doesn’t listen to your hair cut instructions then fuck them.