“I’m a hair stylist.”
I’ve had the privilege and honor of saying this phrase to everyone who asked “What do you do?” for the past eight years. I love it. I went to cosmetology school shortly after graduating from high school and knew immediately that it was the career for me. I soaked up every bit of information I received from my instructors, and was thrilled to be on my way to planning my future, and then, the school closed down. Unbeknownst to all of the tuition paying students, one of our “Instructors” on the salon floor was not actually a licensed cosmetologist. In fact, said “instructor” had just fried my hair off a few weeks earlier…I’m sorry, did you hear me? I said she fried my hair OFF. And I’m not exaggerating. I had to cut it all to the length of about 2 inches all over. And if you are one of my Facebook friends, you have seen the picture of proof.
So, the school closed and I was not interested in transferring to the other school available in my area at the time. I went on to work in a variety of fields; Tanning Salon Attendant, Biscuit Maker, Waitress, Cellular Sales Representative, Bill Collector, and Advertising Sales Representative. The last one was an eye opener. I worked for two and a half years listening to people tell me what made their car/boat/motorcycle/ATV the most special of its kind. My task was to convince them that our company could sell their vehicle in 90 days or they could get a full refund. That could entailed a few hoops they would need to jump through. And when I explained the process, I usually got laughed at, cursed at, hung up on, cursed at…It was loads of fun. Just in case you didn’t pick up on it, that loads of fun part was sarcasm. I was miserable. Depressed. Not to mention how many other aspects of my life were in shambles. I had no beliefs, no relationship with God, no real knowledge of what faith looked like, and to top it off I was dating someone who brought out the absolute worst in me. I often think about contacting my former co-workers and apologizing for what a Debbie Downer I was in those days.
Anyway, I was “let go” from that job, another low point in my life it seemed. I had never been “let go” before, in fact, I had been begged to stay at jobs before. But in being let go, I was able to enroll in cosmetology school again. My hours that were accrued from my former school were transferable so in about nine months time I was able to graduate and take my State Board exam. In one year’s time, my life did a complete 180 degree spin, and it was so exciting and promising. I went to work at a salon owned by a long time friend and started to get a taste of what the beauty industry was like and the endless possibilities that seemed to be right before me.
Being a stylist has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I have met some of my favorite people standing behind the chair. I have shared some of my most honest moments with my clients. I have kept more of their secrets than I have ever harbored from my closest friends. I have learned more about the power of prayer and love in sharing in their burdens and genuinely caring about their needs. Hair is just a part of the career. Being a stylist is more about listening, offering advice, showing compassion and empathy and loving people than just making that person pretty.
I have loved every minute.
But, as the title suggests, I had to know when to fold. And for me, it seems the time has come, at least for the time being. Earlier this year I sold the salon that I had opened just a year before so that I could have more time at home with my toddler. It was the hardest, most stressful time of my career, but I knew that it was a step God was urging me to take. I stayed home with her, and still did hair in my kitchen two days a week for the clients that wanted to follow me home. I didn’t know how much I would love that! I had the best of both worlds, working twice a week and continuing in the relationships I had built with my clients, and still being able to watch my daughter growing and blooming as the sassy little diva she is today. Yet again, six months later our lives changed again as we packed up and moved to a new city located six hours from where I had built my client base. I found a salon in my new hometown that felt like home, full of fantastic co-workers and friendly neighbors. I gave it two and half months, but it seems that when you really know no one in a city, it’s pretty hard to build a business in short time.
I never thought I would walk away from this career that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. But lately, in my talks with God, He’s been reaffirming to me that I am more than what I do. I am not defined by my career status. I am not defined by my bank account. I am not defined by what other people think of me. I am defined only by who He says I am. And my purpose will be only to go where He leads me, and to “do” what He calls me to do.
I’m nervous anxious scared unsure worried doubtful.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.