**At 9pm on Saturday, January 30, 2016, close to 50 hairstylists in the Seattle area, some of them my friends, received a text message from their EMPLOYER informing them that they were all fired and the salon was shutting down.
This article was inspired by the events that took place, as I know all too well what it's like to have the rug ripped out from under you. This is for all of the stylists who are wondering what's next, who are thinking, "Maybe I don't even want to be doing hair anymore." Or maybe you don't want to be doing hair in Seattle anymore."
This article is also for anybody who has been fired from a job and is left wondering what the hell they're doing with their life.**
In what seems like a million years ago, I was a hairstylist in Seattle, WA.
In 2005, when I was still in Cosmetology School, I walked past two large statues that stopped me in my tracks. I looked in and saw hairstylists wearing all black, busily moving about. Loud music, gorgeous people. I wanted in.
It was the coolest salon I'd ever seen and I decided, "I'm going to work here one day."
I finished beauty school and started working at a small, privately owned salon. I never stopped thinking about the fancy place I saw that day, but didn't feel like I was good enough, cool enough, or talented enough to apply to The Cool Kids Salon. I continued playing small at the mom and pop hair salon.
I wasn't ready to be in the high end salon. I didn't have the confidence, the skills or the thick skin that it required to be in such a stressful environment. Emphasis on stressful.
Then one day, I'd finally had enough.
It was time to Dream Bigger!!
I am the type of person who will beat a job, a relationship, a friendship into the ground, trying to make it work, until one day I wake up and realize I'm done. And the day had finally come...
All the while, I knew in my heart that being a hairstylist was not what I was meant to be doing with my life.
But I had no idea what I WAS supposed to be doing, so I just stayed on the path I was on.
Actually, that's a total lie. I just lied to you, like I lied to myself all those years. To be honest, cutting hair was such a struggle for me. It didn't come naturally to me, it didn't even really make sense to me, all of the geometric shapes and angles.
It didn't light me up.
The part I loved: the human connection. I loved hearing about my clients travels, their dreams, their goals. I loved hearing about their struggles and sharing my story as well. Making them pretty was secondary.
I was forced by Senior Stylists to read Vogue and other fashion magazines that I could give a shit about. I never cared about fashion, I wanted to know about their LIVES. I wore Converse and jeans and t-shirts when I wasn't working. I was told by the Fashion Police at work that I didn't have any style. I was insulted, but they were right. I. Didn't. Care.
But I felt stuck. I'd already left my career as a Chemical Dependency Professional and Domestic Violence Counselor. I'd put in long, hard hours getting my Bachelor's Degree and then back to school after graduation to get more certifications. I was nearing my 30's and it was time to settle down so I could save money for a house, a fancy car, maybe even find myself a husband. All of the things adults are supposed to be doing. The pressure was on from the parental units, society and sadly, even myself.
I put on my Big Girl Pants and interviewed at The Cool Kids Salon and was accepted into their year long training program!! The Master's Degree of hair, or so I was told.
I worked my ass for a year as an assistant (ie, making somebody else money, shampooing their clients, doing laundry, sweeping hair, cleaning shampoo bowls), all the while cocktailing every Friday and Saturday night at a dance club, just to make ends meet. I was working seven days a week, but knew it was all worth it because I was following a dream.
I kept my eye on the prize and told myself that I was making sacrifices now to make big things happen later.
That's what we're told will make us great, right? Sacrifice your time, sleep, sanity, happiness, vacation, health, now...so that ONE DAY you can live the life of your dreams.
My year as an assistant was up and I took my final practical exam...and I failed.
I was at a crossroads. I had a choice. I could quit or I could stay in training for another six months and test out again. Even though I was already unhappy with where I was, I'd already come this far. I couldn't just quit, could I? I'd put in so much hard work. I'd be such a failure if I walked away now.
But it didn't FEEL right.
Instead of calling it a day, I sucked it up for another six, long, miserable months. Finally, I passed all of my exams and was allowed on the floor as a stylist.
I set a goal, worked my ass off, and when I got to the top I looked around and realized it wasn't what I wanted after all.
I felt like such a failure. All of that hard work and I still felt like a failure. How did this happen??
Now what? I'd been a stylist for a total of 7 years. I struggled for three years to make this dream come true and I was still miserable.
What the hell was I supposed to do? I felt so lost, confused, and hopeless.
I was 31 and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing with my life, but I knew this wasn't it.
I decided to move. I packed up my apartment, hired a moving van, found a salon in San Diego, and planned on putting in my two weeks notice. Finally, I was leaving Seattle once and for all on August 1!!
And then on June 9, 2011, I got fired!!
I got fired from a job I didn't even want anymore!! And I felt like such a huge failure. How did I start this feeling so powerful, so proud and accomplished? Now I felt defeated, unsure of myself and lost.
Looking back I realize I was being released from everything that was keeping me stuck in a place that was no longer serving me. It was a message that I was FINALLY on the right path.
Instead of taking this as a nudge from the Universe, I froze. And by freeze I mean I had a complete, hysterical breakdown in my living room. Sobbing, snot everywhere, calling my mom to help me, breakdown.
You know shit is getting real when you call mom to help.
I was scared. Scared about the cost of moving. Of bills piling up. Paying rent for the month of July. Paying for a deposit on a place in San Diego. I was living paycheck to paycheck and didn't have much in savings. I had a car payment, car insurance, student loans, credit card bills, gym membership.
I chickened out. I let fear win.
I had a choice. Find another job and stay in Seattle, or stay on my path and pray it all worked out in San Diego.
I chose to take another job in Seattle that was less than ideal (working for my ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend...don't EVER EVER MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE!!!), rather than listening to my intuition.
I knew in my heart, and in my gut, that it was time to leave Seattle. I knew that I had outgrown the city, this life, this way of living. But I got scared and played it safe.
I quit my new job that I'd never even started down in San Diego, I unpacked my boxes and settled back into playing small.
It was comfortable. It was predictable. It was what I knew.
Hindsight is 20/20. If I knew then what I know now, of course I would have moved to San Diego. It was time. I knew it was time, my body knew it was time, even the Universe was showing me it was time.
I often think of what I wish I had known when I was in the middle of that crisis, of having the rug pulled out from under me. What 36 year old me would have told 31 year old me, the day I got fired...
Breathe. Just sit, and breathe. Everything really will be ok. Once the shock wears off, you will get clarity, I promise.
Cry. Let it all out. Be pissed. Talk to your friends. Drink lots of wine. Go out dancing. Ask why this s happening to you. And then once you've gotten it all out, go for a walk. Smell the air, the flowers, the trees, the rain, the grass. You. Are. Free.
There are people who can emotionally and mentally support you. Mentors, coaches, therapists, people in your field. Seek out these people and find out what your options are as far as new employment. I know you're probably stressed about money, but seriously, take the gift of time that you have right now and talk it out so you find a new job that lights you up.
File for unemployment immediately, even if you don't think you'll qualify. Better safe than sorry. You're going to need that extra help while you figure out what you're doing next.
What are you doing? Were you even happy at your last job? Is this really what you want to be doing? If you never had to do your previous job again, how would you feel? Take this time to really think about what you want to do, who you want to work for.
What have you been dreaming about doing, but used work as an excuse as to why you couldn't do it? Why don't you go do that thing, instead? What's holding you back now? Since you don't have work as an excuse, is it just fear? Time to dig deep and be bold. Take chances. You've been given an opportunity.
Everything. Will be. Ok!!!! You're going to be ok. Read some books. Get centered. Journal. Get honest with yourself. Stop asking everybody else for advice. You know exactly what you should be doing. So just take a deep breath and fucking do it!!!
It may not be clear why this is happening right now, but you can make this the best thing that's ever happened to you, or the worst. Your choice.