Many of us have lived a life of fear. I know I most certainly have. I was raised to fear death, the unknown, people different than I was, anything that could make me stand out and the list goes on. I have since overcome most of that and rose above.
I was young when I was introduced to fear. Fear of making ‘mommy leave me’ and death amounted to my first memories. I have funeral memories before I have actual memories of any other thing. I lived with a few serious fears that my heart would stop, that I would make my momma so mad that one day she would not come back for good, that my nanna would pass away. Then a few less serious things, like fear of speaking (not just in public but at all), cats, being dirty, and not being good enough. I cannot even explain to you how it was I was way into my 20s before I spent a night alone by myself. I was always afraid of being alone and if I’m truthful, I still am.
My fears changed and grew as I got older, to things that were debilitating. To name a few, my fear of germs, being dirty, people judging me, dying, anxiety of new places, always thinking the worst. I would stress out from the moment I knew I had to go somewhere, to the moment I got there. I would sometimes make myself so physically sick that I would back out and of course feel fine hours after I knew there was no way to make an appointment or event.
For years I lead a life that consisted of the four walls of whatever room I was in, in my home. I can’t say exactly how I begun to get over this, but to the best of my knowledge the pure desire to live without fear. I literally got up one day and said I am going to change my life. Let’s do this. It began a slow crawl to progress. Guess what was on top of my list to do?
After literally years of me doing my own hair I was ready to have a professional help me out. I was physically too large to go to the local salon. The walk, the door, and of course the sitting. So, turns out asking for help was the biggest fear I had. I found out that my local stylist (my stylist since I was about 14) would go to your home if you had a disability that confined you. I’d love to tell you that I made the call and set up an appointment, but I did not. I had a huge fear of phones and talking to people on them. So, my friend that I lived with made the call and set up an appointment for the stylist to come by. This is how I got through my first hurdle.
Why am I telling you this long drawn out story? Well I had not even thought about this event in my life for years until I moved here to Massachusetts and needed to find a new stylist or least someone I could temporary see to get my hair styled. I had the same stylist back in New York for at least 8 years from when I was 32-40. Before that, the lady that come to my house did my hair from age of 14 – 29. My stylist in New York was very patient with me, let me move and adjust to things at my own pace. She put up with me changing my noncommittal mind over and over. She actually should have been charging therapist prices. Needleless to say, moving and having to face finding someone else I have trusted with my hair felt like a huge challenge to say the least.
How is getting yourself to a hair salon a huge challenge? I bet there is someone reading this that knows exactly how big of a challenge it is. If reading that sentence, you instant thought is your mind running through your own answers to that question, then you may have some things in common with me:
Will the tools be clean?
Is the hair stylist licensed?
Will the hair stylist like me?
Will I like the hair style?
Will it look good, should I just leave it alone?
What germs will I get while there?
Will the waiting area have chairs without arms or benches that hold my weight?
Will the salon chairs hold my weight?
Will there be a lot of people?
Can my legs and back stand the strain of a long sit?
Will the hair wash be something I can do?
Will the chair work, will I be able to sit up from leaning back?
I want to talk about this, having an open conversation makes what feels un-normal, normal. It is feelings so common for those suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, OCD and others. Not to forget to mention us humans of size and the issues we face each and every time we go out to places we normally love.
Good news is, I did get to a hair stylist. She was a mid-20s lovely girl named Stephanie. I choose to go to a chain hair salon instead of a private one. There is some reassurance about schooling and skill there. Also, knowing they must be more on top of things like cleanliness due to the constant flow of people. Thanks to things like Yelp reviews, chain stores try to keep their reviews up by providing good, clean services. It took me at least two months of going back and forth to finally one day I woke up and said, “I’m going to see if I can get an appointment”.
For my mental health, and my spiritual walk, for years and years I have established a method of helping me overcome my fears. I say ‘if it falls into place then it was meant to be and God will take care of me’. That day, it was meant to be. Not only did I get an appointment, but it was within 45 mins of when I called, and I remember thinking “Not much room to back out”. I had done a fair amount of Google searching over the last two months, and had been watching the reviews. I had narrowed it down between three places. In the end, the one closest to me worked out.
For us larger ladies, search websites like Google and review websites like Yelp are our new saving grace. If there is somewhere you want to find out about go and Google, Google, Google. You can find businesses’ websites, Yelp reviews, Google reviews, and most of the time they will post pictures with reviews submitted, and you can end up seeing things like chairs, space between tables, or hair chairs at salons, how crowded it gets at what times. You can even take a detour and drive by to see the lay of the land. There is comfort in knowing what you’re walking into. You just must learn to advocate for yourself and do a little preparation.
So back to the day I went to the salon, I got the appointment and that sent me into a rush to get dressed. I showered and put on very light makeup. Normally if I had been going to my New York stylist, I would have gone with no makeup. However, going into a new place with new people, I needed the power of looking cute. I would suggest to always wear comfortable clothes, and shoes. For us bigger ladies we may have to put a lot of pressure on our feet to keep up in the chairs correctly. So, don’t forget comfy shoes. I loaded my bag with a book, fully charged phone and headphones. I knew I was going to get color so I wanted something to distract me from the things, and people around me.
Off I went. I got my boyfriend to drop me at the door. I walked in, did a casual glance around and then walked to the desk and checked in. To my great relief the sitting area was almost all padded benches. The stylist chairs were all standard square stylish chairs with open arms. Closed arms chairs are a problem for me and my big hips so that was one of the things I made sure to check out online.
So, I had to wait a moment and my stylist walked in. When I saw her, I started hoping she would be my stylist. She put me at ease from hello. So, something that she didn’t do that I had grown quite accustomed to with my New York stylist is making the decisions for me. I would normally go in with a game plan and my stylists would tell me what version of it she could do for the safety of my hair. Which could be close to what I wanted, or turned out to be what I wanted, but didn’t know I wanted. Stephanie made sure every decision was my own. I am not exactly sure I loved that part. I always felt really secure with my stylist taking the lead. Other than that, Stephanie was perfect.
One of the biggest fears at a salon is the washing station. This washing station had comfortable chairs that the backs of them laid back. Which was so much better than the New York salon that I went to having the chairs that the part under your bum moves out, and with my weight, would sometimes take a moment to get working. After washing, I had to move locations twice. The store was not overcrowded or claustrophobic as for its layout. There was a steady stream of customers.
This leaves us at the last fact you should consider. I chose a Saturday morning to go, this is not ideal. If you have anxiety, and don’t like people, the weekend is not the time for you. Early morning Monday – Thursday is the best time for a salon to not be busy. However, be sure to check, as most salons have one day a week they are not open, most being on Monday.
I am sitting here typing out the details of that day for many reasons but the most being to show how I over-stressed, over and over when there were things out there that really were not going to be stressful. Don’t over-stress, don’t wait and don’t overthink it either. Do your research, plan and carry it out. It’s important for you to remember that you are a paying customer, and you deserve to have a good experience. If there is ever something you don’t like happening, say people around you are being rude, a need to use a different stylist, or a need to sit somewhere other that the place they tell you, advocate for yourself, because you are so worth it. Speak up!
Don’t let fear win. Fear won so many times in my life. Fear literally stole my life for so many years. I have done so many things that filled me with fear in the last 13 years of my life. I up and left Louisiana, everything I knew and loved. I wiggled my way into the hearts of a family that did not want me to begin with. I took jobs I was scared I would fail out of. I rode the train every Friday for months into Manhattan for a job that was physically exhausting. I reached out to people that I didn’t know for friendship. I left my husband of 6 ½ years. I have faced an OCD monster situation and won. I have gone to new doctors, stood up for myself in numerous ways, and was truthful to my therapist about something that I will soon be blogging about. Fear still affects me. I am not sure I will ever completely be free of fear and that is ok. What isn’t ok is to just lay down and let fear take your life from you.
Remember, fear is something we create. Something that we put a name to. Therefore, we can change it. You can stand up to these fears.
Remember these steps:
- Name the fear.
- What are the worst possible things that can happen, and think about how you would address them if they did?
- Think about if the worst possible thing that could happen is worse than something you have endured and made it through already.
- Then there is my way of giving faith, good juju, God, Buddha, Allah whoever/whatever you believe in, the power to let/make things fall into place and if they do, you know you are supposed to move forward.
A little like this blog. If it was meant to be, I prayed for it to be. If it wasn’t meant to be, give me guidance and help me except that it wasn’t. Now each time I sit down to write a post, I pray that it reaches the right person and it somehow helps that person in a way that is so profound, they will one day say, “A blog I read by this chic named Evie changed my course”.