Two years ago, I felt lost in my career. This came on suddenly, after 13 years of love for hairdressing and complete enjoyment of the job. I was suffering from low self esteem and a feeling that I just wasn’t good enough.
From the moment we start our training, stylists are taught to keep up to date with fashion and new techniques. Back when I trained, we did this by reading trade magazines. The modern way is to follow leading professionals on social media. Naturally, I followed facebook and instagram accounts of the industries leading hair blogs and beauty schools. I was exposing myself to hundreds of images of complete and utter perfection on a daily basis. After a while, I would see the images come up in my feed and wonder why my work didn’t look as amazing. I began to believe that I was failing, I thought that I was no longer good at my job.
I was going through a crisis. I considered a change of career, I re-designed my cv and seriously started to look for a change of direction. Then, my lovely other half gave me a talking to. After explaining to him that I was no longer happy in my work because I wasn’t good enough any more, Dave said to me, ‘Carrie, I hope you’re not judging yourself compared to those instagram pictures you look at.’ I said, ‘Well yeah, I can’t produce work this good’. He smiled and said, ‘That’s because you are not a team of people, a studio, a photoshop expert and marketing agency.’ He pointed out that I have happy clients and that should be my measure. I relaxed as the penny dropped. My self doubt came from comparing my work to unrealistic images of hairstyling.
I gave that lesson a lot of thought. I expected myself to be able to produce hairstyles of an impossible high standard, but why? In the salon, stylists can mentally compare work their work with each other all day long, keeping their standards realistic. As a freelancer, I am without that advantage and my bench mark had become cyber based. Many of my clients were being caught in the trap too as the images they found online for style inspiration were from the same sources. For example, many women are surprised and disappointed after I tell them that unicorn hair needs to be bleached first and the colours will wash out within a week. They see multi coloured hair so often online that subconsciously, it’s a regular viable option for them. Online it’s just a picture of a moment in a day when that colour was fresh, the lighting was right and the styling had taken hours.
After the revelations, I decided that as I stylist I wanted to be truthful with women. I lost precious self esteem when I bought into images from the online hair community and I see it happening to others. Fashion hair is artistic and should be celebrated as a creative medium so I am glad it exists. However, realistic, natural beauty that encompasses a person’s mind, body and sense of self is just as important, if not more. I feel strongly that a person is most beautiful when they nurture their inner self first, as outer beauty will follow.
So two years on, I’m glad I had doubts. I recognised that I wanted to change. I enjoy hairdressing more than ever and believe in what I’m doing. I have purpose, a sense of worth and lot’s of unusual opinions on the industry I grew up in. This all happened when I stopped listening to my old patterns of thinking that convinced me I didn’t measure up. Now, I follow my own moral compass.