Last night, we watched the season finale of Parenthood (which is awesome, as it should be given what they must be paying for that cast). Haddie, one of the teenage daughters, I think she's supposed to be 15, has a teen crisis of identity over a boyfriend and feeling dull, so she dyes her hair black and freaks out her parents. Later, she explains what she's feeling to her mom, and how she just needed to change to not feel so complacent.
At first I think it's easy to write it off as a stupid teenager thing to do, but later I realized how much I identified with her. Everyone goes through that, probably several times in their lives. Changing your hair is probably one of the easiest ways to feel like you're taking control and overcoming complacency, but some people buy new clothes, or when they really need drastic change, get piercings or tattoos.
So I found myself challenging my initial impression that this was an act of immaturity for the TV character, when I realized that I've made drastic changes in my appearance twice, both following periods of unhappiness. The first was in college, the summer after my sophomore year of college, where I was a self-loathing and miserable douche over a girl for much of the year. I grew out my hair quite a bit and got it cut to match one of my volleyball heroes at the time, Adam Johnson. The second major changes came for me when my first marriage started to fall apart, and I lost a ton of weight (which I needed to do anyway) and took an interest in body piercing (I still hate that my industrial got gross and had to come out).
I've forced professional changes as well. After radio failed to live up to my junior high dreams for a career, and even "safe" government TV failed to satisfy me, I completely changed careers to be a developer. I wasn't happy, so I took control. I suppose looking elsewhere for work after decades of living in Northeast Ohio, that was a drastic measure as well.
My point is that sometimes reinvention is what we have to do to make our lives better. It's not something we do out of desperation, as it may appear, but something we do out of necessity. I don't view it as a response to fear, but an act of courage. Change is hard.