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What Will Others Think?

I recently changed my hair colour from (monthly-salon-visit) blonde to (do-it-myself) red. The change was mostly motivated by convenience, and perhaps Julianne Moore played a role, too. When I had an actual hair colour of my own it was strawberry blonde, so neither one feels to foreign to me.

Blonde to Red

The thing about hair is that others see it constantly while the person under the crop forgets about it by breakfast.  For the first few days, I was a bit startled each time I passed a mirror, but otherwise I felt like myself. Others, though, seem to be having a harder time adjusting to the new look. After four months of redheadedness, I still hear “Wow, I didn’t recognize you!” on a regular basis.

One of my husband’s friends asked him “Who was the red head I saw you with?” after spotting us from afar on the golf course. A friend I met for lunch said, “Wow, it’s like RED red,” which I interpreted as neither a compliment nor a criticism – just a reaction to change.

My feeling is that I messed with others’ perception of me by altering my looks, and no one has been shy about mentioning it. I don’t feel offended by any feedback because I love my red hair – it is on-trend, flattering, age appropriate, lower maintenance, an a small fraction of the cost of those cute blonde salon highlights.

It occurred to me the other day that people have been much more vocal about my hair colour than they have about the even bigger change in my life: becoming a non-drinker. When I gave up alcohol, I worried mightily about what others would think and say about it.  I had none of the confidence about my sobriety that I have about my hair, and felt overly awkward and vulnerable.

If people said the things about my sobriety that they have said about my hair, would it be such a big deal?

Wow, I didn’t recognize you without a glass of wine in your hand!

Hey, who was that sober chick I saw you with?

Wow, you’re like SOBER sober.

It makes me smile just to play the game in my mind. No one says those things, but so what if they did? No one notices or really cares that much what’s in my glass. Still, I’ve worried SO MUCH what people might think about my sobriety and SO LITTLE if they liked a change in my appearance.

These days, I am very open about being a non-drinker and answer (fairly) easily if asked why. But truly, it’s mostly a non-issue for other people.

If you are newly sober and feel self-conscious around others, take heart. Wear something fabulous, learn a couple of new jokes, or change your hair colour. People are easily distracted.

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on May 5, 2015, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Hi- I am considering making the same change with my hair- what brand & color do you use?

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  2. I find that mostly I get a justification about why the other person doesn’t need to quit. There is a subtle judgment in there, but I don’t care. I’d worried about my consumption for a long time, now I don’t worry. I did it for me, who cares what “they” think! =)

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  3. Love the red and you look great! As a newly sober person (twice), I’m still self conscious about my sobriety. I usually avoid the topic. So many other things to work through now but I want to eventually get to that level of comfort

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  4. Your new hair color looks beautiful! I’ve been highlighting mine for years. That is one addiction I am not quite ready to give up. 🙂

    Today I am 6 months sober and I wanted to say thank you … you have been an inspiration to me on this sobriety journey. Your honesty and courage have been a such a great comfort to me.

    I am blown away by how little anyone cares that I am not drinking. I was so worried about not being the party girl anymore. I realize now that my real friends don’t care at all. It is a non-event. I have a few friendships that were really just drinking buddies, and those are fading away. I thought that would make me sad, but it doesn’t. Now that I realize how shallow those relationships were, I am happily more selective with how I spend my time.

    Thanks again … you are helping so many people with your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is really great to hear from you and to know that you are enjoying such great success!!! WAY TO GO!!!! 6 months is a big accomplishment and it sounds like you are making important shifts in your life to protect your ongoing sobriety and recovery. Good for you – that is a beautiful thing. It truly touches my heart to know that by writing this blog is I have been part of something bigger that crosses through all of our lives and makes us strong because of one another.

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  5. I’m 45 days sober, and the only non-part-of-my-recovery person I’ve come out to about my recent sobriety decision is my very supportive wife. My sister is visiting soon though; she’s nosy as hell, so even if I don’t come right out and tell her about my sobriety, she’d notice something was up and wear me down until I spilled my guts. I’m looking forward to talking to her about it. This is going to be a year of “firsts”, and reading your blog, and those like yours, is a huge help. More help than I could have imagined before undertaking this journey. Thanks again for all you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I look forward to hearing how you did with talking to your sister. Please share with us so we can learn from your experience. It IS quite a relief to tell people isn’t it? It feels good to share positive changes and new discoveries about life, and most people are genuinely interested. I am happy you enjoy this blog and even happier that you contribute your thoughts to the dialogue!!

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  6. I love your hair! I tell friends all the time not to compare their inside to someones outside and this is just an example of how the opposite it true too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful inside and out! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The red is super flattering to your skin tone – looks great!

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    • Thanks – it is a fun change. I was watching Mad Men last night and noticing how fair “Joan” is, and how nice it looks with her VERY red hair. There’s so many directions to go with red 🙂

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  9. Well at least you’ve not changed your coffee mug… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. LOVE the color! And I’m impressed with your mad skills 🙂

    To continue with your analogy… the color change is the opposite of early sobriety: color change we move on quickly while others are slow to accept, but sobriety creates self-consciousness while others accept immediately and move on.

    Thank goodness there is a light at the end of that tunnel!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pickledfish2015

    First – the color is great. Second – I laughed out loud at how possibly people could react to your sobriety instead of your hair. Third – I have a social event to attend this weekend. It will be hard for me. I usually fall off the sobriety wagon during social events. This time I hope to stay strong. And I am going to wear something fabulous.

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    • Hey there Pickledfish, tuck your phone in your pocket for that event and post here for encouragement. I am sending you strength and every reader of this blog is on this path with you, wishing you to stay strong and sober through your weekend events. You will be so proud of yourself when you make it through sober! Drinking will only spoil things in the long run. Now off you have and have some fabulous fun, you gorgeous, sexy, sober creature you!!

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  12. You look amazing, that color really suits you. Well, both colors do. You just look radiant. It must be the sobriety! Thanks for this – I am wracked with worry about the accountability and publicness of being a non-drinker. I loathed that feeling of attention for not drinking even when I was pregnant and had a perfectly good excuse. I now get a lot of criticism from friends and family about even thinking of “going sober.” Which is totally unhelpful. But of course, you’re spot on when it comes to most people. I make far and away the biggest deal about alcohol, whether to drink it or not, serve it or not, ask for it or not, than anyone else I know. That is precisely the problem.

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    • Thanks, Good Choices – sobriety has definitely been good for my skin, health, and looks! I think I have also worked on my junk to the point where I have some inner peace that is new to me. People tell me that I seem calmer and more comfortable. I used to be proud to be intimidating and formidable….but that’s just not me any more. I don’t need all the armour. I wish this kind of peace for you, as well, and it will come with time. Don’t give up. It gets easier and when it is hard, we seem to have better resources to actually deal with the hard stuff.

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  13. Ha! I recently colored my hair red or.ginger, but I had my stylist do it, I don’t trust my skills;) and I completely agree with your view point. Over the last year I have gain confidence, I’m proud of.my sobriety and feel more confident about that than my hair color;)
    Thanks for your insightful posts:)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Untipsyteacher

    Your red hair is wonderful!
    I never had anyone care I wasn’t drinking anymore.
    As long as they could drink, they didn’t give a hoot about what I did!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks! I am on sober day 23 and this post puts things in perspective for me. I really appreciate your blog!

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    • Congrats DriDryDiva!!! Your 30 day mark is just a few days away. How shall we celebrate??! Cake? A Massage? You’ve saved tons of $$$ by not drinking so treat yourself and mark the occasion!!!

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  16. You really want to freak everyone out? Stop coloring your hair at all! I went cold-turkey, ha!, 4 years ago and you should hear the comments I get! Most people like it and I’ve actually had a few ladies say that I inspired them to do it too. I’m a cancer survivor and being grey is better than bald, and I’m thankful to still be here!

    I just want to say I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your posts. My day one was 12/24/14 and your blog has been such an encouragement to me. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhh I love a gorgeous grey crop. I am afraid mine is not quite far enough along to let stand on its own but I love the look on others who rocking the grey! Double congrats on your double recovery – I am think you’re here, too!

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  17. Such a good point. I wish I was at the stage where I didn’t care about what others said or thought about my appearance. But the truth is… I care WAY too much about what people think about.. everything, including my sobriety. I listened to The Bubble Hour episode about Impostor Syndrome yesterday and it really ties into this. It made me realize that this endless search for external validation is what drove me to addiction in the first place. I love that you don’t care what anyone thinks about your hair, because YOU KNOW it looks good (it really does too!) and it makes you happy. I’m trying to get there, but it’s so HARD.

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    • It IS hard and some days I find myself in my closet changing my clothes again and again before going somewhere because nothing feels right, everything looks wrong….it’s an anxiety trap that I get into when I start feeling bad about myself. (My solution is to put on an all-black ensemble that works for everything. As soon as I realize I’m in the trap, I force myself to just wear the black go-to.) Point is, sometimes I am still guilty of an external sense of self. (This is the hallmark of co-dependency, by the way. If it rings true at all for you, google co-dependency and read about it. It does not just describe spouses of alcoholics, but anyone whose self-identity is wrapped up in what others think of them). The more I have worked on co-dependency, the more I am identifying internally instead of externally. Check it out and let me know if you find it helpful.

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      • Wow. I literally just read about every single relationship I have ever been in. Thank you so much for the tip! I also want to express my gratitude for your work on The Bubble Hour. I recently started listening to some old episodes and they’ve helped me IMMENSELY. You guys are doing such great work, and helping so many people in the process. I truly hope to get to that point some day. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I love the hair. And sober is definitely better!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I completely agree. And the hair looks awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Red hot sober 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jean you look gorgeous~ like always! Love the new color! Hmm, makes me wanna go for a change too!

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  22. I went gray and the personal convenience and the saved money is great and you are right…I can’t see what is on my head anyway. I’m newly sober and the thoughts about what people are thinking about my sparkling water go through my mind still. But it is better than their thoughts when I am over served! In the end, I finally have to say it is all about me and not give a crap about the opinions of others.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. 🙂 Ghegheghe, I’m really enjoying those sober comments. Indeed it is funny and indicative to how we and others think of alcohol if we swap sentences or words. Ghegheghe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Well, here’s the very first thing I noticed: I have a mug exactly like the one you’re holding in the photo! I immediately felt a connection and that was sorta’ comforting for some reason. You didn’t ask, however I like the new look. It’s somehow softer and calm. Nice. I don’t think anyone pays much, if any at all, attention to the fact that I’m still sober. They have, however, noticed that I haven’t been covering up my gray hair (I call it “sparkles”). Either way I’m not sure I care.
    By the way, yours was the first blog I followed and hung on to for dear life when I was newly sober last September and I’m happy to say that thanks to your blog, the Living Sober community, and my perseverance, I’m still happily alcohol free! Yay!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lynn!!! We are MUG sisters 🙂 That is so cool and I have smiled every time I used that mug this week (which is daily) knowing that you have one, too! True story: I made a couple of cds in my songwriting days and one of them has a picture of me holding this same mug – actually it’s the cd that has “I Own It”, which we use as The Bubble Hour theme song!

      Like

  25. I so agree. The outward/visual aspect of socializing seems to be about that angle of the arm holding the glass of… whatever. Or even a plate of food. (Win-win when I trade alcohol for nourishment!) Then at a certain point it started to feel absurd to me that I gave anyone else an opinion about, not what I was visibly imbibing, but my internal state that was changing behind the scenes as the alcohol went into my blood stream. Absurdity is so useful as a wake-up call.

    Liked by 1 person

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