A few years ago my husband’s grandfather died. He had collected quite a bit in his lifetime, and the family decided to auction it all off in an attempt to clear out the house. I had never really been to an auction before, and I was quite convinced I’d find nothing to interest me. That was until we came to the master bedroom. It was one of the last rooms with items for auction, and the moment I walked in I saw the painting and knew I’d fight to own it.
There are certain aspects of your life that are comprehensively defining. A label is often looked at as a negative thing, but it is nothing more than a partial explanation of the person you choose to be. As we work together to better understand the people around us, we will only increase the understanding we have of ourselves.
It’s almost impossible to be discerning of someone else without learning about ourselves. In that spirit, I offer this series. I will bring a defining characteristic of my life and discuss with you some of the ways it has influenced the person I am. I hope that in learning about me, reading about my discoveries, you will happen upon a few of your own.
For this first installment, I’m opening up about the biggest label I claim: I am a redhead. In recent years, having red hair has become somewhat loved and hated. So, allow me to explain from my perspective.
There have been several things said about redheads over the years. We’re temperamental, passionate, soulless…etc. For me, my red hair has always been something I love. I grew up with Pippi Longstocking as my heroine, and I still hold her to the standard of a true redheaded spirit.
For those that are unfamiliar, Pippi is this fabulous character full of energy and wit. She is strong physically and mentally. She befriends children easily, and finds adult things entirely boring. Her life is adventurous and mostly created in her own mind. She lives on fantastic stories and never has a dull moment. There is not an ounce of malice in her as she only wishes to make everyone feel as exciting as she thinks life should be.
What I truly love about Pippi is her desire to make things “right.” She is like a superhero: “Redheaded Whirlwind.” I see a lot of that passion and clarity of direction in how I consider the decisions I make in life. I get easily frustrated when I can’t fix something, and I can connect that back to my redheaded personality, and my Pippi tendencies.
Feisty, fiery redheaded E did not really break out of her shell like Pippi, though. I still hide, because of other labels I wear. However, I have my moments of brilliance. I have a superbly dry wit that surprises people constantly. I am fiercely loyal to the people about whom I truly care. I think all of that plays into my identity as a redhead. My passion and determination (read: stubbornness) is all related to and influenced by the perceptions I carry regarding my hair color.
Sometimes I feel like I have to live up to it. But, truth be told, I wouldn’t feel like I was being sincere if I acted in any other way. Whether being a redhead has made me this way, or being this way certifies my identity as a redhead is kind of irrelevant. The reality is it is a label I wear, and often the first label people recognize.
Checkpoint: What comes to mind when you think of a redhead?