Let’s Face It

By Rukshani Weerasooriya

In less than a week from now, I may be one step closer to being (properly) employed. This is a terrifying
predicament for me. While on the one hand, employment means stability, money, direction, purpose – it also, on the other hand, means adulthood, commitment, maturity, stamina and the inability to sleep-in on weekday mornings.

Where does this leave someone who has been a perpetual student for the past, let’s see, twenty six years? This leaves such a person absolutely petrified and a little prone to staring into space, out of the sheer lack of imagination as to what she may expect from life henceforth.

But every girl knows, there is but one alleged cure to an attack of the nerves – a quick trip to the salon. I tried out a new one this morning with a generous, good friend who wanted to treat this currently jobless (but soon to be jobfull) person that I am. Of course I subjected myself easily to her desire to see me well groomed.

The place was idyllic, as one would expect a spa or salon to be. The setting, ideal; overlooking a vast green field. I was certainly feeling ready to look better, and soon.

The thing about beauticians and me is that the beautician or hairstylist or whoever, will have one of two of the following dramatic reactions to the thing growing from above my neck, also known as my head, but more specifically my hair, which sort of dominates my whole person. At the sight of me, the good beautician will either:

a. Cry out in despair at the prospect of having to comb the Amazon forest which grows off my scalp, or
b. Ask me if my hair is naturally curly – which I will answer ‘yes’ to. And this is, quite naturally, followed by a thoughtful silence, which I find increasingly hard to interpret.

My experience this morning was no different than the usual. Although I did the salon a great favour by brushing my hair beforehand so as to spare them the hopeless task of bring order to chaos, the beautician told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was his moral duty to give me a conditioning oil massage, because, he said I NEEDED it. I never asked for one. In fact, I didn’t know such treatments existed.

Now, if there is one thing I love about a salon it is the male beauticians. They are truly the most interesting things to be around. If you are a male beautician, you have the liberty to be anything you want, really. A punked-out biker, a Japanese anime character, a girl, a feather duster or even a mysterious ninja/martial arts type. Anything goes. The guy who got saddled with me today, much to his misfortune, was sort of a cross between all these things, and then some. He was wearing possibly his little sister’s entire collection of beaded chains and bracelets, and I loved how he had his combs stuck into his belt in true cowboy fashion. What a curious little creature. Did I enjoy my conditioning oil head massage? Yes, immensely. Did I learn a thing or two about beauticians and beauty treatments? Oh yes.

And did I find that one of life’s great joys lies in the art of people-watching? Yes, indeed i did. But did any of it it calm my nerves and make me readier to face Monday morning?

I simply came home and developed a massive nervous headache which took away my appetite and left me grouchy all afternoon. Which was lovely for the rest of the household. A little pre-new year’s treat from me.

Moral of the story: is it worth deviating from what you ought to do, despite the temporary relief you think deviation will bring you? You see, every change that comes with this New Year – in terms of a new job, a new relationship, a new state of affairs, or a recycled but barely improved set of circumstances – will bring with it, a bit of disquiet in you, be it nervous or otherwise.

You can think of many ways to cope with the prospect of change, such as, insisting on it not occurring, getting drunk, or going to the salon for one thing and ending up with (what turned out to be a fabulous, though only temporary) conditioning head massage – and still wind up not resolving the feeling of dread. Is it worth diverting so much from something that can just as well be faced and overcome?

If I needed a massage, I should have got one without waiting for the fear of impending adulthood. That would have spared me the trouble of enduring a headache, in addition to all the unnecessary worry that I’m struggling to bat off in any case. Lesson learned. I must make regular visits to the cowboy-hippie, with or without crippling fear of the future.

So here is my novel new year’s idea for you (and for me): this year, if there’s something you fear, but know you must do – face it. Face it without the Dutch courage, the oil massage or the chronic denial of the existence of paralysing fear. Face it. And who knows, you might conquer it. Or realise it wasn’t worth getting so worked up over. Have a great new year!

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