I’m willing to accept the ever-changing texture of my hair. I’m aware that even as child, with curly mixed hair, my tresses never looked the same two days in a row. I’m aware that once you bleach your hair, it is never the same. I’m aware that unless I decide to cut off all my hair and embrace wigs for the next five years, I will spend this time covering up roots with various dyes, only to have them wash out after a few weeks and be left with the problem I began with initially. I’m aware that I’m only so paranoid about the appearance of my hair because society has trained me to believe, that as a woman—and more specifically a teenage girl—my value is almost wholly dependent upon how many people want to bone me, and that this is in part determined by the state of my hair. But I’m aware that ultimately, there are more pressing matters to fret about than my hair being frizzy, or having overgrown roots. For example, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the popularity of Donald Trump as a political figure.

I’m willing to accept newfound stresses and heavy workloads. I’m aware that my junior year of high school will likely be my most challenging and strenuous. I’m aware that I must allocate appropriate and realistic amounts of time to completing my work. I’m aware that I will have to better my study habits, because from this point onwards it seems, my high school career will entail a severe amount of testing. I’m aware that I am entering the difficult phase of my life in which my self-worth depends entirely on college acceptances and fractions gained out of 2,400. But I’m also aware that my self-worth does not depend entirely on these things. I will do my best to remain creative, and confident, and content with my state of being.

I’m willing to accept the social politics of high school, and the fact that my place in them is about as prominent as that of a mayor in small town in Wyoming. I’m aware that if I want to regularly be admitted into parties, gain loyal freshman Instagram followers, and kiss cute boys, I will have to change my personal priorities, spending more time on my physical appearance, crafting more intricate lies to tell my parents, and possibly abandoning a few outlying friends. I’m aware that some of my closest allies have chosen this path and—from Snapchat stories and morning-after texts—seem happy with it. But, I’m aware that the Simone from two months ago, and even two days ago, wouldn’t sell herself short for a few hours of forgetful fun every weekend. She wouldn’t even consider it.

I’m aware that there will be nights spent home alone when I wish I could be another girl, holding a Red Solo Cup and yelling at her friends to get their shit together. I’m aware that some nights this girl will be. She’s been let into the party, and made some younger underclassmen hopeful for the stories of their social lives to come. She’s even kissed a cute boy. But will she really be any happier, or more confident? Will her hair look better? Will her readiness for the SAT or ACT or AP have improved? Will she feel adequate? Will she still wish she could fit into a smaller size? Yes. She always will, even if she’s found some miracle way to keep her hair pin-straight for 24 hours, and she’s gained early admission to her dream school. She could be the most important girl in her bubble, but she’ll always think, What if I’d done this, instead of that? and Where would I be if hadn’t done any of that at all? and Am I pretty enough, or smart enough, or cool enough?

I need to be more willing to accept that perfection is unattainable. ♦