We’ve all met a stranger who had something about them drawing us to them. Maybe it was their sense of humour, the way they told stories, or their good looks. Regardless, we find ourselves wanting more. As a hairstylist I have the fun opportunity to meet multiple new people every day. It’s not just a passing encounter either. They sit in my chair and tell me how they want their hair to look. Once they’re willing to trust me with their hair, it opens up to conversions on many different subjects. Sometimes things stay surface level, but often the conversations go deeper into people’s goals, hopes and disappointments.
I came from a white-picket-fence family. I look back and smile. Dad worked hard at a business he started himself. Mom made the sacrificial decision to quit her job and homeschool three kids through elementary school. I loved my childhood. We were always busy learning new things and developing in a structured, yet flexible environment. My parents both shared very conservative values, for which I am grateful. But, I must admit it was a big eye opener when we left our lovely little bubble and went to high school. No, it wasn’t like I crawled out from under a rock, but I was naïve. I slowly realized how unaware I was of the diversity within people. This became more and more obvious after I finished my small town high school and left home to start working as a hairstylist in downtown London.
It’s a common joke that going to see your hairstylist is cheaper than your psychiatrist. The things people tell their hairstylist would surprise you! These variety of opinions and lifestyles began to challenge my view of people. Because people are at the hair salon for no less than half an hour, sometimes three or four hours, you get to see more of who they are than just first impressions. And man, do first impressions ever lie! People would sit in my chair from all different walks of life and tell me their stories. I was not a small town homeschooled kid anymore!
Whether you believe it’s nature or nurture, we all grow into our unique identity with strong values of our own. At one point, I had a group of female clients who were medical students studying here from Saudi Arabia. Their culture was completely different from what I grew up in. Talking and laughing with these interesting, intelligent ladies, made me understand there is so much more to a person than what we see from our perspective.
As a result of this growing new awareness of the people around me, I am trying not to let the outer shell decide my opinion of that person. We are complex, with many factors that make us who we are. The best way to go forward is with kindness. Now more than ever, as major powers encourage bigotry, while subcultures struggle for equality, let’s try to love our neighbour as ourselves. It’s worth taking the opportunity to see past what initially draws us to someone and celebrate what makes them who they truly are.
– Izzy, hairstylist, painter, Jesus follower, nature lover and cat lady >> learn more