• Annie

Manic Panic

I dyed my hair purple a couple of months ago (see above image). Sometime around Thanksgiving I got it in my head that I wanted some form of mermaid/fairy hair and that purple was the desired color outcome. My hair is finally the longest it has been since I was like seven years old—I had the canvas, and so I decided I wanted to have some fun.

I’ve never really done the crazy color thing. I’ve always been protective of my hair, and you hear so many horror stories about hair breaking off or being irreparably damaged by bleach, that I’ve never been ballsy enough to go for it. But because science and whatnot there is some stuff out there that can keep hair from becoming too damaged by bleaching processes, I felt a bit better about my decision—a decision entirely influenced by one thing and one thing only. Second puberty.

At least that’s what I call it. It is known by many other names, but all names are referring to the same thing. It’s the time when you’re in your twenties and you realize that (much like during puberty) you have no idea who you are or what you want or how you feel. Your body starts to change again to be more “adult like” and you start to have thoughts and feelings with which you are entirely unfamiliar.

For instance, beginning in puberty, whenever a guy would say something like “I’ve always been too much of a misunderstood, free spirit for things like school or jobs” I would probably fall in love with him instantly—especially if he could play the guitar or sing or wear girl’s pants or something like that.

Now if a dude is like “I have a good job, a steady stream of income, and I want to travel the world with you but I understand that we’re too old to stay in hostels with teenagers so let’s save up so we can stay in a real hotel” I’m like “MARRY ME NOW!”

Same hormones reacting to different stimuli.

Another super fun part of second puberty (or quarter life crisis, as others have named it) has been the very adolescent urge to experiment with everything about myself, including my physical appearance. I think my rationale was “Hey, if I’m not going to recognize the person I see in the mirror anyway I may as well go HAM.” But this isn’t first puberty, so instead of using a pot of Manic Panic, throwing away all of my Abercrombie clothes and replacing them with everything in the front window display of Hot Topic, I went to a salon and paid a nice lady to turn me into a mythological creature.


Much like any other “cool kid” thing I’ve ever attempted, dying my hair purple was expensive, exhausting, and altogether a total waste of time and energy. Hell yeah it was fun for like..a day…but after that I was kind of done, to be honest. The problem with second puberty is that you’ve already gone through first puberty. You have some idea about who you are, so it doesn’t take as long to notice when something doesn’t feel right. It took me a week. After just seven days I was like okay…that was fun, but alas I don’t think I am purple hair girl after all. Maybe when I was going through first puberty. Maybe when I would have given anything to to be some Sk8r boi’s Sk8r girl…sure. That’s just not a part of who I am anymore.

So…if purple hair isn’t the first puberty vibe that I’m trying to recreate in second puberty…what is?

I think there’s a boldness to adolescence that I’m trying to preserve as I approach 30. It isn’t so much the having of purple hair as it is the mindset of “I could have purple hair! Why not?” It’s the confidence to try new things, no matter how absurd, because you just don’t have a developed enough frontal lobe to consider the consequences if you fail, if you struggle, if you look ridiculous. I think I needed a reminder that boldness is not necessarily just an adolescent game.

In fact, I think I’m in a better position to be fearless and bold than ever before. When I was going through first puberty I was constantly paralyzed by insecurities—zits, frizzy hair, baby belly, braces—things I look back on now and chuckle. Those things just don’t bother me now, but that isn’t to say that I don’t have my own brand new set of insecurities holding me back, keeping me small and boring. Do I really want to look back when I’m forty and think “Lady, what were you wasting all that time for?”

One thing I’ve heard the most since I dyed my hair purple is “Do it while you can.” They mean to say “Do it while you’re young.”

I say, do it while you’re alive. Boldness is not the game of the young, it is the game of the living. The day we stop questioning what we think we know about ourselves, about our beliefs, about the world, is the day we begin to calcify and become stone. Purple hair may not have been right for me, but I’m sure as hell not going to give up questioning, trying, moving forward, stumbling, getting back up, tied to the mast in the middle of a storm, laughing because I’m still alive. Maybe, in the end, we never stop going through puberty—second, third, fourth, menopause—because we never truly know who we are, and so every so often we need to figure it out again, and again.

Sure sounds like fun to me.

You bring the Manic Panic, I’ll bring the eyeliner.


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