January is rapidly coming to an end. My 2019 goals haven’t slid out of the starting block.
Since returning from New York, life has been moving fast. A new job in downtown Pittsburgh two days after the Davines trip… A leadership role mentoring a few local high school girls… Joining a women’s bible study… Hair and makeup house-calls… 20+ hours per week spent on Ebay posting items from my wardrobe that aren’t being loved… Being taunted (via email notifications) by my student loans… And many sleepless nights with my bank account numbers dancing behind my eyelids.
Day 22 of 365.
Adjusting to change.
I was hesitant to write a post about normal life changes. Let’s keep things real here at Wild Northern Beauty.
2018: A year of injuries, job changes, new careers, heading back to school, relationship challenges, travel…
2019: A year of embracing change.
I felt a lot of shame for spending $100,000 on a degree in a field that wasn’t making me happy. I dreamed of working with my hands and building confidence in others. My decision to return to school was not easy. In cosmetology school, I found that many of us grew up hearing the phrase “hairstylists don’t make any money” from our peers. Would I shoot myself in the foot financially and professionally if I went into a field that didn’t immediately rake in cash? Interior and graphic design had treated me well. The risks of going back to school full-time were stacked high. My boyfriend stepped in to be my biggest motivator, touring local cosmetology schools with me and reassuring me with, “Whatever makes you happy, peach.” He said he wasn’t going anywhere. For ten months straight, he encouraged me to pour out my best effort, to push the boundaries of my creativity, and to realize that I could be in that top 5% if I was willing to put in the work. I signed the contract (some PA cosmetology schools require one) after looking at my finances and determining that I could make it work. It would be tough.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
In my previous career, my pay, schedule, and workload didn’t fluctuate. No week-before-Christmas madness or slow-as-molasses January; just design work. Design work that had been quoted at least a year in advance and was automatically broken into time-sensitive fragments distributed to each team member. I have observed the importance of setting realistic goals and maintaining flexibility if I wish to excel in this profession. Maybe adapt in my ways.
"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."
Money vs. Happiness
My relationship with money has not always been positive. The more money I made in my previous career, the more secure (psychologically) I felt. As the numbers in my bank account increased, I fell victim to consumerist culture and keeping up with Jones’… to fit in. My connectivity to others decreased because I thought, “Well, I operate in a cubicle with AutoCAD as my best friend so therefore I’m not interesting.” I felt isolated and unable to express my creativity to the fullest extent. We were warned our freshmen year as design students that we would not have as much creative freedom in the real world as we did in college. There weren’t real budgets on the line nor major constraints in college courses. I began to realize that money was just a bandaide over a broken femur. My career needed to change.
My job now relies on connecting and building relationships with others. I went back to school because I wanted to care for people. I wanted to restore confidence in young women because I had been in the chair with a hair stylist who had done the same for me. Standing behind the chair gave me the opportunity to share my passion for sustainable haircare and skincare and listen to my clients’ concerns. Utilizing their feedback, I could release my own line of products some time down the road. I want my guests to know that they are amazing; that my chair is safe; that you are free to be yourself; that change is good.
Change is part of the road towards success. To clarify: my definition of success means having a work/life balance. I hope to get closer to reaching that goal in 2019. Reminder: money does not equate happiness.
New hair, new me?
Rewind to a few weekends ago. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone when I told Alicia from ION STUDIO NYC to do as she pleased with my haircolor. I was in Davines’ flagship salon; how I could I say, “Oh, can you just touch up my balayage?” This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with an incredibly-talented colorist.
Why are we as human beings so fearful of change?
Have you heard the close-fist / open-fist metaphor? Imagine holding out your hand and a bird lands on your palm. Do you close your fist, trapping the bird, or do you open your fist and give it the freedom to soar? I have been living close-fisted: crushing any opportunity for new things to fly into my palm. Too much time obsessing over schedules, budgets, routines, and feelings of security. By opening my fist, I’m allowing change to flutter into my hand and giving up control. Life isn’t filled with joy when you are consumed by control. Saying, “Hey! I’m giving you full-creativity on the color!” was my first step towards an open-handed Alexi. I trusted Alicia’s vision for making me feel confident and beautiful.
So yes, it sounds cliché – new year, new hair, new me – but there is truth in that statement.
Ready... Set... Fly.
Wild Northern Beauty is a place of transparency. I have found a network of women (like myself) who have restarted their lives or who have stumbled a few times and are pushing hard on the upward climb. These women are my biggest role models and they don’t live with closed fists. There will be times of trial and moments where we want to admit defeat, but remaining open-handed, optimistic, and letting go of things out of our control will only help us stand again.
A close friend once said: “Times of hardship are times for building character. Your physical wealth may not be increasing, but your mental and emotional accounts are rapidly growing. Your knowledge and experience are your most valuable asset.”
We are all growing together in this garden of life – maybe at varying rates and through different seasons.
Side note: it began to snow just as my camera died… Of course the spare battery was dead.