What is the tried and tested, perfect response to a stressful time? An impulsive hair decision, of course! However, after ruling out several other options – slashing my waist-length hair into a pixie cut, dyeing the whole lot pastel pink at home – I decided to take a more sensible approach to the impulsiveness; the next week, I was booked for a hair consultation.

My brown hair already had a blonde ombré, which had primarily outgrown, but I didn’t want to just have that redone. I could do that at home! No, I wanted a radical, full-head change.  The whole lot a sunshine blonde. If you’ve ever seen Teen Titans, I was essentially aiming for Terra’s hairdo.

The consultation went swimmingly. I was asked over and over if I was sure (which I was, I confidently assured the woman), and finally, she conceded.

“Salons don’t like doing full-head colonies,” Mum had told me, “because it’s a shock for the client. You have to be very firm.”

So against my nature, I was. And a week after that, I giddily entered the salon and confirmed my wishes, then we were off. This is, inevitably, where things went wrong.

A junior stylist came over. Now I have nothing against junior stylists, and they have just as much potential to be incredible at their jobs, but. But… I wasn’t fully sure about her. Nonetheless, she was qualified and I am not, so I felt I had no place to question. Even when she started dividing my hair as they had done for the ombré prior, and leaving large pieces untouched.

Politely, I asked, “Why are you doing it like that? Sorry, I don’t understand hair, I’m just a bit curious.”

“Well, that’s just how we do highlights,” she eventually answered, sounding slightly put out.

Now truly, I wasn’t trying to be a pain. I just had a hunch there had been a misunderstanding, so I questioned if we were doing the whole head, because that’s what I believed. Growing irritated now, she warned me that I would have a line of roots in four weeks if she just painted it all on, and I hushed up to avoid angering her. After all, I probably didn’t understand her properly. I had been clear, she knew what she was doing; it would be fine.

It wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be telling the story.

We rinsed it off, and I was faced with disaster. Jarring streaks of blonde glared amidst the muted brown, with a block of pure roots down my parting. Wonderful. Anxiety (boosted with painful disappointment) flared through me, and for some reason I was struggling not to cry. Imagine you had built yourself up for this extreme and daring change, signaling a new point in your life and a willingness to take risks… and then your first risk falls to shambles. You can probably picture my heartbreak. That, combined with the fear of having to live my life with this shoddy look after how much I’d bragged about being blonde, was not good for my brain.

The stylist panicked at my scrunching face, and fetched her manager. He was tragically unhelpful, completely flabbergasted at how I was unsatisfied. In tears, I retrieved my-mother-the-lawyer from work to argue my case, and received a patronizing explanation and finally a second appointment. You see, apparently the stylist has the right to ignore their client, because although it’s your hair, they clearly know best. I didn’t really want all of it blonde – I’d obviously desired streaks instead! Though with a painstaking sigh, they obliged to dye it as I had originally asked. How selfless of them.

I was furious. In teary-eyed despair, I boarded the bus home, fully intending to gobble a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ASAP. Thankfully I had pinged a message to my best friend, who intervened with her puppy and a trip to the TT fairground (possibly more on that soon?), and I resigned myself to my two days of sad hair. And in sheer honesty? It grew on me (pun intended). Although I had no intention of keeping it, I found myself able to leave the house and see people without an anxious meltdown, which was an interesting personal step for me.

And currently, my hair is as blonde as I’d dreamed of it being, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with it. So there is a happy ending to this tale. My rage at the salon has dissipated, and admittedly, I will be returning for my roots. My most recent stylist was a senior, and she was bubbly and chatty and made me feel welcome. Plus, the ‘do was complimentary after the previous mix-up.

There are no dramatic life lessons in this story, unfortunately. I just felt like sharing. Maybe it’ll give some hope to someone whose hair has also not gone as planned.

Why I Quit My Job

There’s a long answer and a short answer to this. Short answer: I wanted to. Long answer, see below.

If you know anything about A Levels and how they work, you might think it’s a stupid idea to get a job in May of Year 12. Frankly, you’d be correct, though my mother would disagree with you. In a misguided quest to teach me responsibility and workplace skills, she badgered me into doing some job-seeking. I applied for a few and failed to get any interviews, so I assumed she’d let me off because I’d tried and hey, I could do voluntary coaching and build up a career there!

Ultimately I was wrong. Mum and I had gone for an ice cream after a good walk, and woe betide, they were hiring. I agreed to go and ask for a form – I could always “forget” to fill it in on time after all – but within five minutes, someone had fetched the owner and suddenly I was being interviewed. In the middle of the parlour. In complete surprise. In my post-walk sweaty state. Boding well, of course. The interview was a catastrophe (school is not kidding when they insist you rehearse for interviews, being caught unprepared is torturous), but somehow I was accepted for a trial period.

Spoiler alert: I lasted five five-hour shifts. That’s literally it. They were spread over about a month, but that still doesn’t amount to a great deal.

Was it an awful job? No. Was it overly complicated? Not really (I was just a bit rubbish at it). My work consisted of serving ice cream, occasionally blundering over the till, clearing the tables and unloading the dishwasher – only ever unloading, I never got the hang of arranging all the stuff so it would close. I know what you’re thinking: clearly I’m the problem. And honestly? Yeah, you’re right. It wasn’t a horrible job, and it wasn’t impossible work. My anxiety wasn’t even too troublesome initially, to my shock. Nevertheless, it wasn’t right for me.

My first three shifts were quite quiet, and they were decent fun. I liked most of my co-workers, none of my bosses were mean, the shop wasn’t big enough for me to get lost in. It gave me a good opportunity to learn the ropes and the basics. However, this pleasantry did not last. The Isle of Man (where I live, obviously) hosts an annual festival called the TT – it’s a motorcycle event lasting two weeks, and it floods the island with excitement, noise and most importantly, tourists. Fantastic for our economy; atrocious if you work in any kind of retail.

As the influx of TT-goers began to pack the parlour, I quite rapidly understood what the actual job was: dashing around like a mad thing, weaving around the shop, and doing a million things at once correctly. Absolute admiration to anybody who can work in that environment successfully, because golly gosh I cannot. I knew I had to quit when I found myself hyperventilating by the storage freezers, trying to meditate myself away from a panic attack. I finished the shift, had a little cry at home, then quit the next day.

So is the moral of the story to just give up when you struggle? Of course not. Although, it’s not to never give up either. Truthfully, the aesop of this tale is that if you need to quit, it’s okay to do so. Maybe not for good, but just until you’re in a place to handle it.

My mental health has been in shambles this last few weeks. My next poem will give an insight into why, but as always, mental health is unpredictable; I’ve had a lot of unhelpful factors, and it’s culminated in a serious decline. I’m managing, but not completely. I needed to make room in my life and my brain, so I removed the job I knew I could. Like trimming a plant, pruning away the unnecessary leaves to help it grow. Sorry, I’m so tired, it’s been a long week and it still isn’t over.

To return to the point, I understand fully that for some people, axing your job isn’t an option for whatever reason. I don’t have to pay my own bills, and I have other avenues I can venture down that I’ll prefer. Not everybody is that lucky. However, I’m almost certain that there is something in your life you can afford to take a break from at least. It might only be a week or two, or it might be longer. The crucial thing to remember is that your mental state is more important than anything else, and you need to take that time to look after yourself and get back to your spirits. Also, it’s okay to do that. Cut yourself some slack 🙂

Wise words I once heard were “talk to yourself as you would a friend”. If you told a struggling friend off for attempting some self-care, you would not have that friend for long. In my case, I would never force a friend to keep a job that was adding stress they could opt out of, especially during an already-turbulent period. So make friends with yourself, because it’ll change your life in the long run. That’s something I’ve been working on this month.

I’ve done my infamous tangent-ing again, I apologise. But yes, I quit my job because it was the best decision I could make for myself and my mental health at that time, and that’s okay.

It’s always okay to look after yourself, as long as you’re not actively hurting anyone else.

I Is Idiot

You know that staple in cartoons, where someone is running off a treadmill and goes off the end? And you’re left looking at the screen thinking, “Who on earth could be that stupid?”

Yeah? Well, guess who.

I will clarify: I didn’t fly off flailing then faceplant the floor. That would have been spectacular to watch, but I don’t think I’d be able to return to that gym again. So no, no bone-breaking.

To be fair, I didn’t expect a stellar training session. I’ve been quite ill lately; I missed karate and a gym slot last week, and I had felt like death itself. While a little better by now, I’m still suffering from a hellish chest cough. Which, as you might imagine, is aggravated by aerobic exercise. So in a pretty logical move, I asked my mother who had already been what we’d be doing.

And I quote, “Oh, there’s only a bit of aerobic at the start, and it’s not too bad. You’ll be fine.”

Said “not too bad” aerobic bit was actually run 1K as fast as possible, rest for 2 minutes, and then do it all again. Now in my opinion, that’s pretty bad, so I was understandably nervous. But I’m a tough gym-ster, so I hopped on the treadmill and did my 1K anyway. After my 2 minutes of rest zipped by, I sucked it up and carried on. I had to hold onto the handles of the machine, but that was okay.

Unfortunately, about .3K in, my breath gave in and I began sputtering like an old exhaust. Naturally, I let go of the handles while I coughed. This was a mistake. You see, my eyes closed instinctively while I was coughing, so I wasn’t aware of what was happening for those few seconds. I was however, vaguely aware of a strange sensation. It took me less than a second to realise that I was falling.

Oh god no.

My eyes snapped open. I leapt into the air. A quick landing. Bounced back up again. Grabbed the handles. Ran. Thanked the Lord I never hit the floor.

Honestly, I’m kind of amazed I handled it so well, considering my reputation as a clumsy fool. Other members of the gym – previously unacquainted with my… uniqueness – were, however, very alarmed by this. The poor man on the adjacent treadmill almost took a tumble himself. But I finished the exercise, so it’s all good.

So yes, I’m an idiot.

This isn’t even the first in my line of impressive gym recoveries. You’d be astonished at how often I have to save myself from a box-jump disaster. Clipping the box, tilting the box, outright missing the box… I’ve done it all. My only real strategy is to jump out of harm’s way, so if I ever encounter a problem where that isn’t possible then I’m in serious trouble. But so far, so good.

There isn’t really an aesop or message for this post, if I’m honest. Maybe pay attention on the treadmill? Don’t hurt yourself in the gym? Just don’t go to the gym, period? I really have no idea.

This was just so unbelievably stupid that I felt the urge to share it.