Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coming Out

I put off even looking into beauty school for months because I couldn't admit to my family, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues that that was what I wanted to do. It would be so much easier to say "Oh I'm going back to school for .... law, or veterinary medicine,... or education... or a PhD in Theology." Anything but BEAUTY SCHOOL. For God's sake.... Beauty School?? WTF?
At the six month mark I started to realize that I needed something, I'd had enough of cooking, gardening, quilting, scrapbooking. And besides, the pool was closed now until next May. I called the beauty schools in town and went to visit them. Figuring there was no reason to get everyone's panties in a bunch until there was something real, I didn't even tell my husband what I was up to. Of course I also keep looking for that elusive "day job" -- the one that would pay me in excess of $100K to get treated like shit from madmen and morons pretending to know how to work with an agency. I even went on an interview; sent a couple of resumes, did a few networking lunches/coffees and checked every day. Truth be told I am still doing all that stuff. 'Cause I like it, and turns out I'm good at it. But I digress. This is suppose to be about coming out.
I pick a school -- based on overall flexibility and ability to switch to part-time (for when I get that big, perfect day job). I filled out applications for financial aid and student loans. I talked to unemployment about whether or not I can go to beauty school and still get benefits (I can). And still I TELL NO ONE. Because it's embarrassing. BEAUTY SCHOOL....WTF?

So I decide I just have to do it, and now's the time. I tell my husband and a couple of close
girlfriends. They are all unbelievably supportive. But I don't tell anyone else. I'm embarrassed. But then I start school and I LOVE IT. On so many levels it is completely awesome. (See first posts) I keep trying to channel Michael Gill Gates of How Starbucks Changed My Life ( I want to be happy -- publically; but I can't. Not yet. I tell my brother, a few out-of-town friends, close friends who live far away but know I've been talking about beauty school for years. I give a few people the url to this blog. Every single person I tell is genuinely thrilled and many are jealous. When I meet new people (which is often because since I've been unemployed I've gotten very involved in my church -- but that's another story) I start saying "I use to be in advertising." It feels weird, really weird, and I wonder if it's true.

Then comes Halloween. I live on one of those streets that you see in the movies, that you wish you grew up on. Everyone is nice, everyone is normal, people watch out for each other, and everyone is smart and fun and the kids are all above average and they all get along -- all the time. Halloween is a big deal here. There are little block party-like affairs on the front lawns with adult (and kid) beverages, hors d'oeuvres, fire-pit fires and everyone sitting around having a great time while giving out the candy to the trick or treaters. Okay, so you get the picture. As the evening winds down and we start to talk to each other, I get the curious, but sympthay-loaded "how are you doing?" Phrased the way you'll know if you're unemployed -- emphasis on "doing," in kind of a sing-song tone of sympathy. And then it happens -- instead of the lame and uncomfortable ... "working on projects, doing some consulting, networking, exploring options..." I just come out with it... "I just started beauty school. Yup, beauty school. Have wanted to do it for years... blah, blah, blah." People got really excited, everyone was so psyched for me -- and then they wanted me to give them highlights. It's like being the doctor at a party I'm finding.

Then yesterday was the big one. Like telling your parents your gay. I attended a networking event with about thirty other "highly networked" professionals -- invited because "people know, like and trust you." These are the people who could help me get that "big job," these are the people who could help my friends and associates find great jobs (Tangent -- I've kind of fallen into a little; albeit successful head hunting thing. Again... need to save that for another time.) As usual we go around the room and introduce ourselves to the group -- our name, company, why we're here, what we want to get out of it, etc, etc. Lawyers, designers, HR professionals, marketers... I'm starting to sweat and
feel like I'm going to have a panic attack. I think to myself that if I'd know this was going to happen I would have taken a Xanax before I got out of the car; and it's too late now. The damn thing takes twenty minutes to kick in. I'm thinking I could do the "laid off, ... project work.... consulting.... " thing. But when it's my turn, I come clean. I tell the whole freakin' room that I'm fulfilling my dream of going to beauty school so I can work in a high-end salon and do cuts and color. That it'll be fun, and creative, and fulfilling. I'll be making people feel good. And if the client is an asshole -- they'll be out of my chair in 40 minutes! It felt good. Even though a little voice in the back of my head keeps screaming (WTF are you doing!!!! You're going to ruin any chance you have of EVER going back to a big job you moron!) But the room went wild. Seems I'm living out everyone's dream. Later, during the networking part, people came up to tell me they wish they had the balls... how inspirational I am. And of course wanted my opinion on their hair. (again, I think it's like being a doctor... weird.) They asked for the address of this blog.
I loved being in the professional meeting enviornment. I felt validated. I felt secure. I felt at home. At 9:00 I had to race off to school where we did theory on pedicures (YUCK) and spent the afternoon doing thermal curls. I heard some crazy stories about shit that went down in ISS (In
school suspension), and some really jacked opinions about birth control (did you know if gives you cancer? and "That Norplant don't work. when I got that thing taken out I got pregnant a week later")

An interesting day. (and I didn't even get to the part about my seond grade religious ed class making their first reconciliation last night. So sweet. It fills me up.)

At least I'll never get called up by the pilot to trim someone's bangs!

Oh, and I'm still keeping this a big secret from quite a few.... but I'm working on dealing with that.


Decar8ishMom said...

GREAT post! Loved it....keep on going!

Rena said...

Keep going is right! I've told you before and will repeat it! YOU ROCK and it's awesome you are living the dream doing just what you want to do. Someone once said - if you do what you love it will never be work to you!