Emma Gaeke - Grade 9, Centerville High School
The Most Incomparable Gift
Would you be able to pinpoint the most incomparable gift you’ve given? For some, it’s the handmade friendship bracelet you slaved over for your dearest friend or sloppy sheets of coupons written in smudged marker for your dad years ago. For me, it’s in the moment I heard the uncanny snip of scissor blades running through hair that I spent years growing. Instead of being swept from the floor and thrown away like withered flowers, I sent the hair to an organization christened Locks of Love. They make hair pieces for children in need due to long-term medical hair loss.
Prior to my first donation, I learned that those with certain cancer treatments or medical conditions could potentially lose their hair. This offhand statement I had overheard in a conversation really influenced me because my hair was impactful to my self-image. I had always been told that my hair was exquisite, and the girls at school always wanted to run their fingers downs its length or braid it into an elaborate hairstyle. I took great care of my hair and I identified myself with it. Just learning that someone like me could be trying to overcome their sickness or be struggling to fit in and have self-confidence made me feel like I had to support others in some way. From that point on, I vowed I would get in the act and donate my hair.
When my hair reached my hips, my mom scheduled an appointment for the big change. I waited in apprehension, chattering on about how I wanted my hair cut and wondering who would receive a wig that I had a part in. As I settled in the large plush chair of the salon, I glanced at the mirror, knowing it would be the last time I would see myself before the transformation. Then my hair was gathered into a low ponytail, measuring over a foot long, as my stylist asked me if I had a change of heart. Steeling myself for what followed, the hairdresser made swift cuts through the thick mane of hair, cutting close to the nape of my neck, the hair vanishing in just seconds. She handed me the gathered hair, and I knew at that point, even a task as simple as contributing hair could make all the difference for someone else. As I marveled over this idea, seemingly vast at my ripe age of eight, the stylist trimmed my hair to my chin. I gazed at myself in the mirror and admired how my hair naturally curled at the edges.
Donating my hair may have been the easiest decision I have ever made. If something as superficial as this aids another, how could I resist? Through this experience, I came to terms with the idea that letting go of such a frivolous thing doesn’t need to be a huge deal. Instead, you should have fun and be spontaneous, especially in an effort to get involved to benefit others.