When I’m doing my own hair and I realize I’m short on product or I lack the skill it takes to make my ‘do match the Pinterest photo, I go hide in my bed for a while. I let my sore arms relax while I contemplate a big chop (or hibernation). A good stylist, however? She pivots.
I first decided to lock my hair when I was about 8 years old. It didn’t happen then, but I knew it would eventually. Every few years I would reconsider the decision until I hit my 20s when I started thinking about it every few months. I would have consultations with locticians and elaborate conversations with my friends who had locked their hair. I’d watch countless hours of YouTube videos on different methods and styles. Finally, a few months ago, I started my journey.
My hairstylist, Alicia, and I picked a random Sunday afternoon. I sat in the salon chair I bought for our home (the greatest self-care purchase I’ve ever made), and we got started. There are so many different ways to lock, style, and maintain your hair, but we decided that she would start the process that day and come back over in 4 weeks for a retwist. Fast forward 4 weeks, and it was time for my first retwist. We were half-listening-to and half-talking-over reality television as Alicia twisted my hair…
Until she stopped.
It wasn’t a reaction to whatever dramatic story I was telling at the time. She didn’t stop for a drink of water or even to reach for more product. It was that pause we all know—when you’re reevaluating your style decision. I slowly turned around to face my stylist-turned-family friend as she broke the news, “Girl, this isn’t gonna work.”
My hair texture was too fine for the method we were using. Plus, having had Covid twice and dealing with my doctor’s prescribed care for my mental health, my hair has gone through a lot of changes and doesn’t necessarily follow any rules given. So, there we were, poised to pursue my near-30-year-old dream, and there was little to no possibility that it was going to turn out the way I envisioned it.
Alicia explained how my hair would turn out if we kept it the way it was, and then she left the decision up to me. But she knows me, and she knows my style, so she added, “If you really want to go for the same look we talked about, we’re going to need to take this down and start completely over.”
The idea of taking my hair down was daunting. Even though I wasn’t physically doing it, I was discouraged that the plan had changed. I was embarrassed that my hair had changed. Yes, I was grateful for a stylist that is both honest and experienced, but I was disappointed that I had “lost” an entire month of a beginning that now seemed to be in vain.
Sometimes in order to accomplish tasks or reach goals, we have to go back to where we started. We have to be willing to take down what we were hoping to achieve and find a realistic starting point—even though we don’t want to begin again. Sometimes you have to start over to finish well.
That was 2 months ago. And—crazy enough—I had to check my calendar to confirm. In the moment, it felt like time would never move forward and that I may never feel excited about my hair again. But just minutes after my initial understanding of the situation, I began to feel grateful. Days after, I began to feel hopeful. And now, months later, I had to fact check some of the details. This is what starting over and finishing well looks like.
Have you ever had to start over from the beginning? How did you feel in that moment, and how did you feel after finishing well?