Get Comfortable being uncomfortable. At Hays Academy this is one of the most important parts of our culture. The students will hear it the very first day they arrive at school, and at the very least once per day, every day thereafter. What does it mean? When it comes to cosmetology school it means that you are going to be put out of your comfort zone, a lot. You are going to have to get comfortable working daily outside of that comfort zone. This quote teaches the students to embrace change on their new found journey at our school.
I, myself, couldn’t count the number of times in a day I say this to our students, but it wasn’t until the other day that I realized I wasn’t quite showing the students how I handle being out of my comfort zone. You see, I’m very up front with the students, they know that if they want the truth, without sugar coating, I will give it to them. I show tough love to my students and although they may not like it at first, they soon embrace it, because its part of who I am and what they expect from me.
“Miss Kirstin, how did you become so hard shelled?” This wasn’t the question I was quite ready for, but I replied with a speedy answer, “I was a push over for most of my life, and then I woke up one day and decided that wasn’t who I wanted to be, so I changed it.” What that student didn’t know was that question haunted me for a solid five days before I realized, I have never shown the students vulnerability. They had never seen me out side of my comfort zone. So, I decided it was time I shared a story with the whole student body that I had never shared with anyone….
That morning I was shaking horribly, I felt sick just thinking about sharing my personal experiences and opening up to all of the students. When the time came for me to start my morning activity, the students saw a side of me they had never seen before. Hands shaking, lip quivering, and out of breath I began reading a journal entry from a year prior….
“Who are you? For most, this question could be easily answered with ” My name is________. I am ______ years old, and I _____ for a living.” My story is a little different. I’ve had extensive training on my 30 second “elevator speech.” Mine would make it sound as if I have the life most people dream of… it would go a little something like this… ” My name is Kirstin Holliday, I am a cosmetology instructor at Hays Academy of Hair design.I started my career almost 3 years ago and haven’t worked a day in my life since. Every day I get the privilege of inspiring and helping make peoples come true.” Sounds dreamy, right?
Now you may be wondering just where on earth I’m going with this, the good news is, you’re about to find out. I recently got evaluated at work and was asked the question “who are you?” Thats easy, I share my skills with others and show them how to do it, therefore, according to the dictionary I am a teacher. However, my answer was quickly shot down. Thats not “who I am”, its what I do. As I sat there staring blankly at my manager and one of the owners, completely speechless, I did the one thing I’m learning I’m very good at… I cried.
I felt like my head was going to explode between my emotions and thoughts. All I could think was ” What the hell are you talking about!? I have tattoos and piercings and love rock music, I’m a rocker. I teach people how to do hair, I AM A TEACHER!” But the fact of the matter is she was right, it’s not who I was. I’ve made bad decisions in my life, I’m a bad person, is that what she wanted to hear? For the first time in my adult life I, little miss spit fire, had nothing to say.
It was in that very room with my bosses staring at me that I realized I had no freakin’ clue who I was. I’m the first on to put my middle finger up in a crowd of strangers and say ‘forget what everyone thought of me,’ they dont know anything about me. I’m the first one to take to heart what my friends, family, and loved ones say about/or to me. I wear my emotions on my face like an ever changing mask. I am a people pleaser, a go getter, and a loyal person. However, it’s still not WHO I am.
Finally I had to face the facts, at the rightful age of 22, I, Kirstin Holliday, had been whatever, whoever I was around, wanted me to be. Daddy’s athlete and mama’s princess. I have spent all 22 years of my life being someone else’s definition of perfect. Its a pretty hard pill to swallow, for anyone. I was a chameleon in a rainbow colored room, conforming to whoever I needed to be.
“Who are you”, three words that until a few days ago I thought I knew the answer to. I’m not angry at them for asking, as a matter of fact, I’d like to thank them. With out that evaluation that day, I would have continued being what everyone else wanted. I’m blessed to have wonderful people such as them in my life who genuinely care about me, my life, and my future.
I wish this was the part where I would tell you how I found out who I am, but its not, and I’m okay with that. As of right now, when I wake up I have the opportunity to be whoever I want to be, and all I can pray is that it is a better person than yesterday. I pray God helps me through this new journey of soul searching and shows me what it is I’m supposed to do on this earth.”
I stopped reading, and to be honest was scared to look up in fear I would lock eyes with someone and lose it, but when I finally found the courage to look up what I saw was unbelievable. Some girls were crying, some looked as if they had seen a ghost. Whether it was the fact they had just seen me a complete mess, or the realization that they too didn’t know who they are, I will never know and I dont need to. Up until this day I thought I lived ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable,’ but after doing this I realized I was mistaken.
Each day God gives us another chance at life. Since writing this I have found myself and I have amazing owners, coworkers, students, and a very loving fiancé to thank for it. I encourage you to ask yourself the same question “Who are you?”
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You have left a mark on me, not only in teachings but on my heart. I see now that my education goes far beyond superficial beauty because the day you read this to the school, you showed what it means to have a beautiful soul.