Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breaking all the rules

Remember reading all those teen magazine articles on how to combat frizzy hair? The tips were always the same: Don't touch your hair. Blow dry on low heat. Use such-and-such ridiculously expensive hair gel that you may or may not be able to track down in a drug store. Or you can use a drugstore brand that's cheap and easy to find but may or may not work quite as well. Whatever you choose. Oh, and my personal favorite: Don't wash your hair every day. That one meant that I could wake up early to shower  one day and sleep in the next.
Oh, but heaven forbid I shower seven days in a row or blow dry on high every day. No, that wasn't going to work. If I did that, I was convinced my hair would look horrible all day, and that would be a tragedy. Considering that 70 % of days are bad hair days for me anyway, I had many quasi-tragic days throughout junior high and high school.

Fortunately, none of them were quite this bad. (source)

I've always been sort of a rule follower. Okay, a big rule follower. When I was in high school, I would be caught dead skipping class without a legitimate reason. Even if I used the word legitimate very loosely and used an excuse along the lines of "it's the last day and we're not doing anything important." But I would never skip sporadically or just for fun.
Any time I set out to do something, I read every word of the fine print to make sure I'm not doing something wrong. When I was filling out my application for arts school, I must have read the instructions at least 400 times, reading and rereading to make sure I got everything just how it was supposed to be. Following the rules can be good because they're there for a reason -- usually for something good, like to keep us safe or out of trouble. But rules can be stressful too.
One of the crazy things about writing -- or any art in general -- is that it's so subjective that rules sometimes have to be tossed out the window. One person looking at your work might see something they love, while another person might see the same thing and hate it.
When I was in college, I had two professors who were about the same age. They were both married with elementary aged children, and had the same credentials/experience. Both of them mentioned the Harry Potter books in their classes; one of them thought they were brilliant, the other despised them. One thought they had brilliant prose, the other thought the writing was terrible. One thought they were inventive and complex, the other thought they were formulaic. The cliché that you can have five people look at something and get five different opinions really is true. Or, in this case, two people and two different opinions.

By the way, I now blow dry my hair on medium heat. No way am I leaving the house with wet hair OR blow drying it on low anymore. Lots of stress taken off of me just by breaking a so-called rule.

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