During my freshman year in high school, social anxiety hitched a permanent ride in my mind. Not “Twitter-version anxiety,” like feeling kind of awkward at a party with people I don’t know. “Actual-version anxiety,” like not leaving my apartment for days because I’m terrified of social interaction. It’s not like this every day, and it’s improved immensely over the last year, but every now and again, the feeling resurfaces and prevents me from participating in activities that involve other people.
One thing that’s almost certain to trigger my anxiety is getting my hair cut. I can initiate and carry a lovely conversation almost anywhere, but going to the salon means a contrived expectation of conversation, deeming any silence automatically awkward. It sends me into constant self-critique and worry. I sit in the chair and wonder if I’m behaving like a normal human. The struggle is real.
As luck would have it, last weekend, my hair was in dire need of a trim. I try to save my hair appointments for drastic changes – color, multiple inches off – and I try to avoid putting my awkward self in the salon chair for little things like trims. I asked if my mom could trim it for me. She assured me she’d mess it up. My mom even offered to pay for me to have it professionally cut. I don’t think she understood that money wasn’t my problem, conversation was.
After a bout of convincing (okay, more likely begging), I traded my salon chair for the toilet, my cape for a towel and my hairdresser for my mom. She asked me where on my neck I wanted my hair to fall. I responded with an apparently ambiguous hand motion that I intended for just above my shoulders, and she interpreted as just below my ear lobes. Needless to say, there’s a big difference.
Post cut, she shed my towel cape with pride and invited me to look in the mirror. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but when I made eye contact with the pageboy looking back at me, my deep breaths and inevitable frown must have divulged horror.
I hastily convinced myself my pageboy look wasn’t as bad as the circumstances exaggerating it. Perhaps my sans makeup face and baggy pajama shirt made me look more like a pageboy than the cut alone. I would be better in the morning.
Well, morning came, eyeliner winged and clothes fashioned, but my hair was still a mess. Not only was it three inches shorter than suitable for my face, but the left side was adorned with four chunks about an inch longer than the rest. I texted my friends in dismay, but they offered little solace. A bad cut is a bad cut.
I’ll keep this post short, since the picture speaks for itself and the lesson rings undeniably true. Please, never let social anxiety stop you from going to the hair salon. You might leave looking like a pageboy with a cut so unflattering even Tyra Banks couldn’t make you over.