The Hairstylist

Just when you were asking yourself, ‘what can’t Jack do?’ here I come with another hidden talent! Well, not quite; this was one of the few things that I didn’t excel at, but it came with a story that may not be the best I’ve ever told, but one that nevertheless came from one of the times I hold most dearest to me.

This one is two days late so my apologies about that, as well as the technical difficulties I’ve had and the number of times I needed to republish, but here we go. Two years ago when I completed my chemical engineering degree, the world was my oyster. Or at least that’s what it felt like; the thing that stood between me chasing after everything I always wanted to do was finally out of the way. And Needless to say, excitement was at fever pitch. And just how did I choose to start my life with all this newfound freedom? With a Harry Potter marathon. At last, I could write non-stop or play guitar all night but that’s what I decided to do. A Harry Potter marathon. And that’s how my whole first week liberated was spent – doing all sorts of things that weren’t taking me any closer to the life I wanted. You could argue that after the year I just had, I needed to take some time off to get refocused and it would be a fair assessment, but the truth is part of the reason I was procrastinating is I was kinda scared of what the future held and starting it immediately would in-turn finding out much sooner if I was going to succeed or fail, so that’s why I held it off for as long as I did. But as it turned out, that wasn’t one of the better decisions I have made in my life.

Because I had delayed so much to start doing all the work I was supposed to be doing, article writing especially, I fell behind with all my bill payments and burned quite a bit through the savings I had. I still wasn’t worried because I had a backup plan: I had an opening working with a friend who had a chemical-making company so, at the back of my mind, I always knew that I could fall back on that. But, when I reached out to him to arrange something, he told me that his business hadn’t been doing too well so he wouldn’t be able to give me work immediately. He was, however, managing a salon and told me I could start working there just in the meantime so my rent and other expenses would be sorted. Right there and then, I had the choice to move back in with my parents where the late nights that came with the territory of performing arts would be out of the question or work at a salon where I would at least be able to continue pursuing my dreams by night and styling hair by day. And I think you know me enough to know which one I picked.

Let me tell you right from the offing: working at a salon was nothing like it was portrayed in that Beauty Shop movie: it was a lot of hard work because it was a job I wasn’t really qualified for and the owner of the place had high, high standards. Sure, there was a lot of tea but there was also a lot of learning I had to do and it isn’t something I caught along quickly as I did with so many other things I’ve done. The kid had finally met his match. I kinda sucked at it and I think my being there was actually costing the business rather than adding value. The worst part of it all was with the crazy work hours I had, I had no strength at the end of the day to start chasing after nothin so it really did feel like I had made the wrong choice. And, after only a week of working there, I was ready to give up.

I walked into the shop on a Saturday, palms sweaty and pulse shooting all the way up, ready to hand in my resignation. I walked out of the shop that evening, still an employee. So what exactly happened then? Well, three things, to be precise. My friend who hooked me up with the job really did believe that despite my rough start, I could turn it around, and I didn’t want to let him down. Secondly, I’ve never been much of a quitter and I just couldn’t find it in myself to give up. And third, and most importantly, my boss kinda frightened me and I didn’t want to disappoint her either. So I hunkered down and decided if I was going to lose my job, it was going to be because I was so bad that I got fired, and not because I threw in the towel. And that’s how I went on YouTube, learned everything I could and dare I say, became able to at least hold my own. And on top of that, I got to learn something about making paints and gamazine as my friend eventually got his business back up and running again, so there was a bright side to it. But most all, for the first time ever, I got to do life. Fully independent and responsible for my own self.

And it was awesome.

And depressing.

And overwhelming.

And beautiful.

And a complete train wreck.

In short, it was what 8 million other inhabitants of this crazy planet go through.

Life.

So, for the next couple of months, I was on a crazy journey of self-discovery where I learned so much about myself, but also so much about people and the way the world works. So many faces came in through those doors and interacting with each and every one of them, I found out just how much the world doesn’t revolve around me. The intricacies of human entanglements I found quite perplexing; I’ll have so much happening in my life that I do tend to forget everyone else has things going in their lives too and sometimes, you just have to put yourself in their shoes and it will change the way you see them. So I made connections, formed bonds, and dare I say I even found love, but that will be a story for another day.

In the end, I kept my head down, did the best I could, was kind and polite to everyone I met and when my time came to leave, my boss was actually sorry to see me go and used me as an example of how the rest of the employees should conduct themselves. And I can’t say I didn’t feel a tear creeping out of my eye as she said all those kind words. Who would have thought it. Anyways, that was a chapter closing and a new one opened not too soon after, which was an even crazier rollercoaster, but sometimes, all you can really do is hold on, wait to see what happens next, and if this lesson taught me anything, be prepared for the unexpected.

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