I have started to notice that people see me differently, and treat me differently.
My hair has finally reached a length that could be called "long hair" by some. It hangs in my face, it blows in the wind, I can form it into a ponytail. It comes down to my chin in the front and is slightly longer as it moves back.
As it was growing out, it went through many stages, but each stage was a version of "short hair." Even as it began to get floppy, I still would have called it short. Now, though, it has unambiguously reached the "long hair" category, even if it isn't yet shoulder length.
This is important because now, when strangers first see me, they form an impression of me that includes my long hair. I still dress more or less the same, and I'm obviously still the same person I was when I have short hair. I haven't changed, but my hair has; it's the only significant physical change I've undergone over the past year or so.
The result of all this is that the first impression I give to people is different now. I notice that people treat me differently now that I have long hair.
For one thing, people used to mostly ignore me as I ran. In some cases, I think some were afraid of me, because I typically run faster than most people, with sunglasses on, without a shirt, etc. I'd even wear a bandana as my hair was getting longer. Now, I put it in a ponytail, and no one seems afraid. People smile at me much more often as I run; pleasant, friendly smiles as though acknowledging a neighbor. It's great.
At work, or walking around downtown, the case is similar. Whereas before people would refuse to make eye contact with me, sometimes seemingly attempting to walk right through me as though I wasn't there, now people smile, or nod, or even greet me.
When I play live music, people are much more receptive to my on-stage persona now. The music is the same, but the look is enough to capture a little more attention from the crowd. Perhaps it gives me more credibility as an artist, since people expect artists and musicians to have long hair. Or perhaps it's just visually more interesting, which helps the audience tune-in to what we're doing a little more.
I expected that, at work, long hair would reduce my credibility. I expected people to take me less seriously and think less of my ideas when presented. So far, though, that hasn't happened, either. And since people seem to be a bit friendlier to a long-haired guy, I've been able to make good working relationships with coworkers I've only recently met. Perhaps they remember me a little easier, since I'm more easily identifiable now.
This has been a good change for me, and very unexpected. At the risk of reading too much into everything, I feel more as though people see me the way I see myself: friendlier, more artistic, calmer, more open. Maybe, for whatever reason, the long hair conveys more of that impression to others. Or maybe I simply feel different with long hair and therefore act differently. Perhaps it's a combination of both factors.
One thing is for certain: people treat me differently now that I have long hair. I didn't really expect it, but I quite like the change.
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