I think I'm finally there.
I got my hair done this weekend, and instead of straight purple I went a different direction. Silver to blue to purple at the tips. Apparently in doing so I crossed the line from "Quirky but harmless" to "We must judge this stranger with grim and frowny faces until she repents her life choices." Sunday I had to run to the grocery store. The same one I go to at least once a week and have for oh, six years. This time was different. This time, there were stares. There were glowers and even one outright sneer, and for the first time in my life, it didn't bother me. Not one bit. Holy hell, was that a good feeling.
After a lifetime of worrying about my looks, my weight, my every real and imagined imperfection, I had a clarifying moment when none of it mattered. Don't like my hair color? I don't care. Disapprove of my tattoos? Go right ahead, I'll be over here, not worrying about it. Are you going to judge me because I write romance novels full of smoking hot sex? This is me, entirely unconcerned about your opinion. Feel the need to mock me because I'm overweight? Okay....that one is still going to sting, but I'm getting over it. I am still a work in progress, after all.
I wish I could send my fourteen-year-old self a snapshot of who she's going to become and tell her not to spend so much of her life afraid of other people's opinions. Back then, I did everything I could to blend in, to be part of the crowd so that no one would find a reason to tease or bully me. As it turned out, they didn't need a reason, and the more I hid who I was, the more power I gave to the ones I was trying to appease. I got so good at hiding, I developed sociophobia and anxiety disorders that plagued me for years.
This year I'll be turning forty-five years old. That's when the warranty on my give-a-damn finally started to expire. Frankly, I can't wait until it's officially busted.