Reflecting on Life…And A Haircut

OCTOBER 20, 2015


Having recently moved to Sacramento from Washington, DC, I set out on a journey to find one of the most sacred people in my life: the person to whom I would entrust my hair.

I’ve had a lot of lack luster haircuts in my life, and one or two spectacular, life changing, made-my-stylist-my-future-baby’s-godparent cuts, and I’m a true believer in finding the unicorns who, with a shampoo and some scissors, can make me feel like a movie star. Last weekend, I set out to find said unicorn, but instead I learned a life lesson about the balance between patience and courage, and it only cost me $30 and an inch of split ends.

My first mistake was not making an appointment. After half an hour of Google/Yelp surfing, I had decided on a place in Midtown. Arriving there a few hours later, despite the sign outside declaring “Appointments available! Walk-ins welcome!” the less than exclamatory hipster behind the counter told me there were no appointments today, there were no appointments tomorrow, there were no appointments at their sister location, there were no appointments for the masses because what even is an appointment but an elitist opiate to exclude the… you get the picture.

I edged my way out the door before his inevitable collapse into a pool of well-coiffed apathy. Outside I refused to give up. There is a day to give up on a haircut when a whole bunch of salons turn you down at once, but it was not this day. So I found the closest place, called, and the woman on the phone told me curtly to come as soon as I could. A couple blocks away, I found an old man with a walker standing in his socks in front of a corner store advertising “Men’s Cuts $16″. Looking back now, that was probably a sign. But I was still feeling a sense of haircut destiny, so I passed this gentleman by and stepped inside.

“Sarah.” barked the small, middle-aged woman.

“That’s me!”

Death glare.

“Sit. Right there,” she gestured to the rickety chair that was sandwiched between the open door and the cash register cart. I sat. “What do you want to do,” she said, sweeping the red cape over me as she attempted to strangle me with the neck guard.

“Uh, a trim? Clean up the ends, I don’t want any layers or anything.”

“I’ll take off 1 inch.”

Without asking any more questions, she started blow-drying my hair. Mind you, my hair was damp from showering, but because I was hoping to have it shampooed at a salon, I hadn’t washed it, so yeah, it was oily and gross.

“It probably needs to be washed,” I said, looking longingly towards the sink while she raked a comb over my scalp that may or may not have been made of knives.

“No. It’s easier for me to cut when it’s dry.”

So at this point, I was realizing that at best I had found a horse with a corncob tied to its head.

Over the next several, torturous minutes, I wrestled with whether or not I should stand up, rip off my cape like a Spanish bull fighter and make a run for it with my half-dried, half-cut, fully-gross hair, or sit it out, be patient, accept that it was not an ideal situation but that there were good
things I could get out of it.

After several long, silent minutes of indecision while getting whipped in the eyes with my own hair, commanded to stand up, sit down, sit taller, lean forward, and being generally manhandled, the hair cut was over, and my ability to choose was gone.

I grudgingly paid and got my revenge by calculating the exact 15% tip, and as soon as I walked out of the store, I put my hair back up in a ponytail. No victory post-haircut walk for me. Later, staring at my new, and undoubtedly pretty good, haircut in the mirror, I couldn’t decide whether I had done the wrong thing, the right thing, or nothing at all. And unfortunately, it got me thinking about my actual life.

Being a recent college grad and a 20-something at my first job in a strange city where I work from home, no, things are not ideal. I haven’t made the bundle of new friends I expected to make, the work I do as someone with almost two years of experience (read: 1 year, 1 month) is less than world changing or life altering, and I find myself harboring the fear that I’ve made a terrible mistake, that I could be so much happier, more fulfilled, and generally more well somewhere else.

So in a way, these past six weeks or so have been the longest haircut of my life so far.

Do I stand up, apply for other jobs, and make a run for it to anywhere else, maybe where more of my friends or family are or to a job that might be more fulfilling, to a life that might be better? Or do I be patient, sit it out, get a decent haircut, and if in six months or a year I’m still feeling it, I can change it up when I’m a little older, a little smarter, and a little wiser.

I know what I did at the salon. I never decided, and the decision was made for me. I don’t know if I’m okay letting indecision decide for me in my real life, but right now, that’s what is happening. I don’t have any answers (and if you do, help a girl out!), and I can’t do both. I have to do one or the other, stay or go, cut or run, and whichever I choose is going to fundamentally change my life.

For me, I’ve never felt more twenty-something.


  • Courtney 2 years ago

    First off I love this post.
    I am a hairdresser, your story is too cute. I know how you are feeling though I am 2 years in working after graduating and I still feel like I am finding my way in this world. Good luck look forward to reading more from you.