I got a long-overdue haircut this morning—a great way to start the weekend.
It wasn’t until after college that I discovered the joys of a good, salon-quality haircut. The whole experience is so relaxing: warm towels, scalp massage, nice smells, and that feeling of lightness when you shake your head afterward. And knowing you look good is a great confidence boost. It’s just an hour or so of blissful “me” time (and it doesn’t involve calories in any way!).
Then believe me when I say: as an introvert, I hate getting haircuts.
It begins with making the appointment. I have a nice salon in a nearby (kinda upper-class) suburb that I’ve been going to for a few years now, and they’re open on Saturdays, so at least there’s no big decisions involved. So once I’ve said to myself “I could use a haircut,” all that’s left to do is…pick up the phone.
Yeah. The phone. My least favorite method of communication. Below pigeons, YouTube comments, and semaphore. I don’t even know semaphore. Phone calls are quick conversations, so there’s not enough time to think before I have to react, and I also can’t get cues from the other person’s facial/body expressions. I try to practice what I’m going to say in my head before I call. Sometimes it helps.
The appointment itself is another challenge. Think about your stereotypical hair salon: it’s like a social center, a buzzing hive of feminine gossip and laughter. People’s hobbies, kids, love lives all in the air for anyone to hear as the stylists and customers go back and forth. As an observer, it’s pretty fascinating.
As a participant, it’s horrifying.
I don’t really want to chat about anything very personal with a person I only see 3-4 times a year. And while there’s plenty of time to get into an in-depth conversation as introvert prefer, I don’t think my stylist is interested in the minutia of heart disease research. Or anime, or YA fantasy novels. I don’t have kids to talk about, either.
I am not bad at making small talk; it’s an important skill everyone should learn. I learned it well as a campus tour guide in college. But it is still an effort, and 30 minutes straight (minimum) of small talk is pretty exhausting for many introverts. I do my best not to be awkward, but it’s a relief when she starts the noisy hair dryer and I’m spared the effort of conversation-making.
At first, I jumped around to different stylists, trying to find someone I could connect to. I felt so awkward that I was sure the stylists were like “Oh, not that girl again” if I went back to them repeatedly. But I think this actually made the experience harder because I was starting over every time. And it certainly didn’t help the stylists get used to my very thick hair with waves in weird places, which would probably make for a better haircut.
I do think it’s important to stretch my “extrovert muscle” from time to time—I hope it will make me a stronger person as I learn from these experiences. Already I’m thinking about what I can do better next time. We all know that fear is the mind killer, and for me preparation can help soothe anxiety.
Luckily, I go to a no-tipping salon, so at least that social quandary is eliminated 🙂