When You Don’t Want To Follow The Crowd

by | Aug 29, 2012 | Uncategorized

Julie sweeps a brush of blue in her hair, folds the strand into silver foil and then grabs another piece for the purple.

Murielle saw it on Pinterest, strands of color highlights on the ends of shiny locks. We both thought it looked pretty. She decided – after a failed attempt herself- to have it done professionally before going back to school.

I watch my daughter graduate into hair color and remember how my first time came in a spray bottle of Sun-In. It turned my hair gold. But gold is kind of like blond, and it seemed more becoming than mousy brown. I never thought about blue and purple.

As I swivel around and look out the window at the swimming pool across the street, I think about our crazy road trip conversation just a few weeks ago. How my son used a word in a sentence that revealed he didn’t know the true definition. That led to browsing the urban dictionary and belly laughter. Laughter that kept us awake between hours twelve and thirteen in the car.

But two words, they still haunt me. We seem to use hipster and mainstream now more in dinner conversations and on car rides. They’re like flint for the fire that burns inside my mind.

I grew up slathering baby oil over my pale skin on the first muggy day of summer in the Midwest. Lay next to my friends on beach towels in tall grass and cooked myself rare.  Using Sun-In and sacrificing flawless skin to be tan are just two examples of how I thought the ticket to happiness came from being like everyone else, settling for mainstream.

Then I gave birth to a daughter who values being different.  A confident, artistic, I don’t need to follow the crowd to feel good about myself different.

And when I started creating art and taking risks, God revealed a door in the house of my soul that I didn’t even know existed. Because sometimes using the same door to follow the crowd becomes a habit, not a call.

I admire the hipsters in Urban Outfitters donning masterpieces of color on their arms. Read the words of her and her and her and they challenge me to move away from tired thinking.

Those unafraid to share their unique voice among the chorus of the same, they give me courage to find my voice. It’s why I need, not just want, to travel and experience different culture. It’s why I feel trapped like a prisoner in places where everything sounds the same, looks the same, and reads the same.

It’s why I’m smiling about her blue and purple hair and wishing I had the courage, as she does, to reveal the hipster of who I am on the inside.

This girl of mine, she’s quietly teaching me how to be brave by being herself.

Do you find it hard to find your authentic voice among the crowds?

Linking with God Bumps, WLWW, Walk With Him Wednesday, Life in Bloom, Thought Provoking Thursday.

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  1. Diana Trautwein

    Ah, Shelly. You don’t have to have blue and purple hair to BE a hipster. (Looks great, by the way). I’ll never forget a dear friend, always carefully made up, coiffed and dressed who told me once, “On the inside, I’m Paula.” Paula was a hippie, in the best sense of that word. Long straight hair, scrubbed face, Birkenstocks, simple clothes and lifestyle. And you know, my friend is a hippie down deep. And she is a carefully coiffed, made up vision on the outside. She is both. And that’s fine by me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh yes, I know you don’t have to have blue hair, tatoos, or nose rings to be a hipster. All those things just make me think about the unique personality God gives us and how we miss something in following the crowd, needing to be like everyone else. It’s not what’s on the outside as much as what is on the inside.

      • Liss Hutto

        Thank you for sharing this story today as it’s very timely for me. I,too, have s daughter who marches to the beat of a different drum who has angst about returning as a sophomore to an ultra-preppy college where she proclaims that she doesn’t fit “the mold”. My prayer for her is that God will enable her to be confident in her hipster skin while proclaiming His word! I’ll pray the same for Murielle!

        • Redemption's Beauty

          Amen to that Lisa. I think this is why Murielle wants to go to college in California or Europe. She doesn’t really fit the preppy mold at all.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    You know, I think one point is that God looks at the heart; it’s most important to Him. I try to be authentic in my appearance, writing voice, speaking, singing, etc. (though at times we can be authentic and still be like others–there is nothing new under the sun)…but inside, I pray that I will die to self–be less of Lynn, who is oh so sinful–and let Jesus increase more and more. Boy, do I fail at that miserably! Thank you for another authenic, excellent post, Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think our insides matter most Lynn. I think its the way we think and share ourselves with the world that matter more than the color of our hair and what we wear. But I do get inspiration from what I see on the outside as well.

  3. Danelle

    So, over and over again I find myself reading beautiful posts on voice and being authentic lately. It is all I have been talking to my husband about at home. A friend from high school (who was also my first editor on our high school newspaper) sent me a book on voice in the mail. God incidences.
    And I read this and I just nod. I read Diana’s comment and I know that feeling too. Sometimes our outsides and insides don’t match up to a certain “type” and there definitely is something inside that almost wants to match the two. . but that is sometimes just the world talking.
    My thoughts are more Birkenstocks, but most of the time I am wearing Adidas running shoes or LL Bean flip flops since the weather is warm here in the south. I have no tattoos or piercings (not even my ears), yet my heart tumbles and flips when I read the words of those who boldly proclaim the inside on the outside. I admire that, but I think that just comes down to desiring truth. I would love them just as much if they had shoulder length blonde hair and shopped at the Gap. 😉
    I admire your parenting and it sounds like your daughter is going to be incredible and deep like her momma. 🙂 I love the way you compared Sun In and purple hair highlights. So good.
    Love you Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Danelle, I love everything you’ve said here. And I agree that authentic truth is what draws us to people, no matter what they look like on the outside. Enjoyed your post today and the God incidences. And I’ve noticed it too, how so many seem to be writing about voice lately.

  4. tara / pohlkottepress

    I. LOVE. HER. HAIR!!! it is amazing. Tell her it looks stunning. there is so much truth here Shelly. I spent my time in my Daddy’s church trying so hard to fit the mainstreamed mold of what others thought i should be. The problem that came in is that i COULD be those things, but my heart knew that’s not who i was. my net is a wide one to where i pull in this whole world as my church and each person i meet in some ways is a preacher. this doesn’t mean that i’ve stopped living by the same principles and set of firmly held beliefs that i had while i was sitting in a pew – it just means that i no longer care if my worship or my love looks just like everyone elses. i don’t want to be on someone elses road to the kingdom and take the chance of being lost because i don’t understand the directions. He will meet me on my own. So much love to you and your family. {squeeze}

    • kelliwoodford

      Tara has wrapped my heart in her words.
      Couldn’t have said it any better.
      Beautiful post, Shelly. You’ve got quite a conversation going here. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Tara, so good to visit with you and I will tell Murielle what you said. I like what you said in particular about knowing you Could be those things but your heart wasn’t in them. And sometimes the uncomfortable place of mainstream is exactly what He uses to grow us, push us toward Him in a richer way. At least its been that way for me. Squeezing you right back my wonderful friend. Would love to know what you’re up to these days. I haven’t seen you post much lately. Assuming your busy with real life.

  5. LuAnn

    Your thoughts encourage me to enjoy the freedom Jesus paid for. Murielle”s hair is beautiful. Sometimes I don’t follow the crowd but it’s usually because I absentmindedly fell behind and lost it.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your comment reminded me of the time you went to Bora Bora and came back saying there were famous people in the boat you were in but you had no idea who they were and didn’t really care to find out.

  6. Jillie

    Boy Shelly…could I relate to this one! I have always loved and related to that ‘bohemian/hippie’ look described by Diana. The long, gauzy skirts, lots of chunky jewellry, Birkenstocks. I’ve got the Birkenstocks, but would feel foolish at my age adding any extras to ‘the look’. I even have trouble with the whole wearing of ‘Sunday Best’ to church. I just want to wear my jeans, but the looks one receives from others is enough to kill. All my life I’ve worried about what other people think, and I cannot go to church without having to do the hair, makeup, proper attire thing…and only to be ‘accepted’. In our church, you really do have to ‘appear’ to be of a certain social and financial ‘level’ in order to be accepted. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been to church in some time. It’s part of it, for sure. It’s quite literally taken me 50 years of life to even begin to quit worrying about such things. Sometimes I fear I’ve lost who I was made to be, simply by ‘posing’ as someone else I don’t even know.
    It just so happens I have a hair appt. this afternoon—maybe I’ll ask young, hip Santina to put in a splotch of something wild and free. Just to make people talk. My name means ‘youthful’ or ‘young-at-heart’…I think I should just ‘flow with that’. What say ye?
    (I LOVE your daughter’s hair and your willingness as a Mom to let her express HER SELF.)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Ooo, I just learned so much about you Jillie. I like you even more now (if that’s possible) :). I think you should do it, get a streak of pink.

  7. wynnegraceappears

    Shelly, Murielle’s hair is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. As she is inside and outside. (Her words in church were tender and bold). Shelly, it is a privilege to read your words and to hear your evolving voice, in its beauty and in its striking uniqueness. God is doing rich things in and through you, friend. Know always that your art is a masterpiece as are you. Please tell Murielle how beautiful and radiant she is (with the color and or without–I happen to love the color).

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You are so generous with your words Elizabeth. I appreciate your encouragement. And thank you for your kind words about Murielle. I was so proud of her as she gave her testimony, revealing the beauty of her heart.

  8. Stefanie

    Up until about 4 years ago I live an inauthentic life. I morphed into who I thought the people in my life wanted me to be. Finally, after 38 years, I began believing I was fearfully and wonderfully made, hand-crafted in His image, created for a specific purpose. At that moment, things turned. Living authentically and transparently became the cry of my life. I’m so thankful!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m rejoicing with you over finding freedom in who you are Stefanie. Because who you are is so lovely.

  9. Jennifer Camp

    Shelly, I love this — how it calls me to stand securely in how I am made. I was right there with you, slathering on baby-oil, applying Sun-In in my hair. Fitting in was the most important thing, more important than anything else to me. I still am called to die to that, to lay down all those insecurities and be, joyfully, me!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Let’s encourage each other in this, shall we?

  10. Judy

    I’m not sure where you live Shelly; I was interested to see the comments noting your daughter’s courage in not following the crowd. I live in Vancouver (Canada) and of late I see coloured ends on shoulder length hair most days I’m out and about. It appears to be the newest trend for young girls to follow here. Regardless, choosing her authentic self in Christ will always mean not conforming in the most important ways. Praying your daughter will have courage in faith, as in trying out blue and purple hair!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Judy, I am so so glad you stopped by and left a comment, it widened my perspective. I live in a small southern coastal community where everyone dresses and looks the same, very little unique. So, my world is small sometimes. The fact that this is commonplace for you, it sobered me about what I write about. Thank you.

  11. simplystriving

    You know, I must confess I didn’t even know to figure out who I was on the inside until I was drowning in the need to make my own decisions! I blamed it on being a middle child of many but let’s face it. That’s how indecisive I was — didn’t even want to search for the answer for fear of making the wrong decision!
    But now, look out. there’s not stopping me and I pray I can teach that to my children like you have. because look at her — she’s beautiful…. 😉

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, that’s some good food for thought when it comes to parenting. Making sure I don’t make too many choices for my kids so they know who they are.

  12. Jennifer@GDWJ

    This is good stuff, Shelly.

    I’ve grown more and more comfortable in my own skin, my own voice, my one shade of nail polish, my tendency toward bling, my quirky personality, yada-yada. But it’s amazing how other people still want us to conform, which is so disappointing. I went to the county fair a few weeks ago, just as I am… as myself. And a farmer and his wife came up to me and told me that I looked like “a fish out of water.”

    I smiled, and told them that I probably was a fish out of water, but that I was OK with that.

    And I can honestly say, I really was OK with it.

    That felt good.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      The things people say, oh my. I get accused of being dressed up all the time because I like to wear skirt and dresses in the summer. And I actually enjoy looking nice, more than wearing yoga pants all the time. I’m okay with it too. Isn’t that a good place to live?

  13. Mindy Bowman

    Shelly, I’m sure if you put blue and purple in your hair it would look just as awesome as your daughter’s! One of the things I like about being “older” is that I don’t have to worry about being mainstream…I can be in the middle or on the side. But where ever I am, I am much more comfortable being me. I’ve survived motherhood…nothing much out there scarier than that! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You made me laugh Mindy. Because its true, what you said.

  14. Alia Joy

    Yes! I have really noticed that the older I get, I’m in my thirties, the more comfortable I am with myself. I have my moments for sure, but I realize that I like my voice, my individuality, my contribution and God has made me exactly this way for a reason. It’s inspiring that your daughter feels so at home in her own unique way at such a young age. I’ll never totally fit in but I have found my place.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      She was born that way Alia, from day one. As a matter of fact on her third day of life I took her to a lactation consultant because she refused to nurse and she said, “this child knows what she wants, she’s an all or nothing child”.

  15. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing

    I love it that your daughter is both brave, confident with herself and learning to follow after the Lord. You may be learning from her- but I know she’s learning, growing and benefiting from watching her mother follow Jesus too:) always enjoy your posts!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love it too. And the best part is that she was born with that kind of confidence. I’m not sure it had anything to do with me at all. Nice to visit with you Kelli.

  16. Ells....ro elliott

    Shelly…i could have been laying out next to you…iodine in my baby oil…foil on my album cover…but with my almost black hair…i never got the chance to do the sun-in…was so envious:) I will say for me growing older has helped me leave so much behind…my husband and I were walking and talking about finishing strong…as I get ready to turn 55…I have a new courage growing… an excitement is growing to see maybe not the new me…but the me He always intended me to be. I am not sure I could go with the hair…but I am “scaring” the kids with the talk of a tattoo:) thanks for stirring my pot…blessings~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I can relate Ro. I think the older I get, the more sure I become. It’s one of His gifts when so many others are taken away, like good skin tone and thick hair! 🙂

  17. debra elramey (@elramey)

    Murielle is a rare jewel. Love her colorful soul, her unique spirit, and her shiny purple hair! I know you’re grateful that she won’t allow herself to be poured in a mold, that she is a free spirit with wings to take her where she needs to go in life. Bravo to you, mom, for not clipping her wings in midflight.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And you know, I had so many tearful nights through middle school. I wasn’t sure if I would ever like her again. Then one day she woke up to her authentic self and I just love who she is becoming. (thanks for the tweet btw)

  18. Meredith

    This is incredible!! 🙂 And her hair came out lovely! I am so glad that you and she have the beautiful relationship that explores freedom and creativity within boundaries… Praying a hedge of protection around the hearts of your family!!

  19. Barbie

    Oh this is beautiful! I love that you allow your daughter the freedom to be herself. I know how hard it is as a parent to let go. She is a beauty, and her hair turned out lovely! I just know she’s beautiful on the inside as well.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’ve learned that she teaches me so much when I allow her to just be herself. When I try to put her into my image of who I think she should be, it doesn’t work so well. And it doesn’t honor God either.

  20. triciaraisinghumans

    Oh I love this! I love her courage and individuality. Still wishing I had that. You’re raising an amazing young woman.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Tricia, it was nice to visit your blog through Tara’s guest post. Thanks for visiting here.

  21. lolitavalle


    When I started reading your blog, I should say, what attracted me is the authenticity and the refreshing way you deliver you message across. Your words, imagery and style is out of the usual even if experiences sounds the same.

    I was a conformist, I fear departing from the customary, but now a mainstream-er. I don’t focus on them now, because our individuality stands out as we grow to the downhill in age.

    Anyway, I so admire your daughter for being her. And I do believe it is due you for raising her to believe in herself and find courage in being different.


    • lolitavalle

      Pardon, that should read: not a mainstream-er.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your words make me smile Lolita. So nice to know why you kept coming back here, so glad you did.

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