Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Beauty Didn't Change My Life.



"Hairdressers are a wonderful breed. You work one-on-one with another human being, and the object is to make them feel so much better, and to look at themselves with a twinkle in their eye"
 - Vidal Sassoon


"How did Beauty Change your life," is the question they ask you on the last Tuesday of your cosmetology program. And there you are standing in front of roughly 35-50 people trying to give an answer that makes sense to everyone else; like what caused you to come to beauty school and what you love about the industry. For months I had been thinking about what I was going to say when they asked me but once I got up there I kind of forgot everything, mumbled a few words, cried, laughed, and awkwardly made my exit in true Ashlee fashion. 

My way with words are less than impressive when I'm talking to a crowd, so I figured, it's been a little over 2 months since I was asked that question and now felt like a good time to give my true, honest answer: 


How Did Beauty Change Your Life?


Beauty didn't change my life. 
Beauty as in Makeup, Hair, and Fashion didn't change my life!

Is this the answer you were expecting? Probably not. But let me explain:

The day I walked into Bellus Academy I told myself that I wasn't going to become the "Best" Cosmetologist. I never considered myself a makeup artist but simply a girl who enjoyed playing with makeup. I thought if I could become decent at coloring hair I could become a Colorist but I was in no way out to be labeled one. You See, I had it embedded in my brain that I would never stand out as someone who could do Hair and Makeup well. I wasn't good enough. I learned everything I knew from others and tried to pass it as my own abilities. I would always be "last" and never come in first. you know, the whole "always a bridesmaid never a bride" thing? Yeah, that was my way of thinking when it came to doing Hair and Makeup. I was mediocre. These are things I was told at one point in my life in some way or another by people who at the time I was inspired by. Throughout my program I'd hear stories of why some girls were in school and surprisingly some of their stories mirrored mine. The story was short and simple: To Prove someone wrong. That was the end goal. After 2 months into my 11 month program, I realized how completely wrong I was for going into it with that state of mind. And then, something changed. 

Beauty Didn't Change my life. 

Your program is done in increments. 2 months spent in a classroom learning the basics and practicing for your stateboard test. The next 2 months you learn about cut and color; and the next 7 months you're on the floor taking clients. It doesn't seem that complex but it really is. It's exhausting, time consuming, annoying, exciting, frustrating, easy, difficult...I could go on. It leaves you thinking that you'll never make it through and that there is no way beauty could change your life because beauty, in fact, is the most tiring thing ever. These are all the feelings I had throughout my 11 month program. But remember what I said -- something changed. 

Beauty Didn't Change My Life. 

I started my program alone - literally - I was the only day time new start for Cosmetology and the rest were estheticians. I also started my program alone in the way where I didn't know a single person, everyone had their groups of friends, and I was the odd man out as per usual. When you battle with anxiety, going into a new setting where you are surrounded by a lot of loud personalities can be really overwhelming; especially when these personalities are into makeup and hair like you. You know, it goes back to that whole "you'll never do it better then them," thing. 

I slowly started talking to some of the girls around the school, not really opening up to anyone but making time go by without feeling completely alone. By the 3rd month I was in the cut class with a whole new group of girls and 3 more joined us for the color class. I began making friends, having people to sit with during theory and lunch. And before I knew it I began to make friends with people who I knew would be around long after our program had ended. A few of us went on a trip to Las Vegas for Wella Trend Vision, a huge hair show that happens every year. When we came back not only did I feel really inspired to continue learning more about my passion of this industry, but I realized I had some really great friends at Bellus. When I got on the floor a few of those girls who I began to be close with graduated but that's when a new wave of girls started. 

Beauty Didn't Change My Life. 

At this point in my program I had opened up completely. Always making a loud entrance, coffee always in hand, a joke to tell, a dance move to show. I was the Ashlee that my outside of school friends and family know and love. I knew everyone and I was always having a conversation with someone in the building. My Confidence was rising and I began to really believe in myself as a person and as a Cosmetologist. I started to get to know some of the new girls who were just starting their program and before long I got the nickname "Felks" or "Mama Felks" - I was the person who everyone began to come to for advice or even just a mid-day laugh. I don't know how it happened or even why. I have always tried to be that person people feel comfortable coming to but I in no way thought as myself to actually be that person. Looking back now, I'm glad I became that person for my Bellus Babes. 

11 months later, from my start date, I was set to clock out for the last time. 

"How did Beauty Change your life," is the question they ask you on the last Tuesday of your cosmetology program. And there you are standing in front of roughly 35-50 people trying to give an answer that makes sense to everyone else; like what caused you to come to beauty school and what you love about the industry. For months I had been thinking about what I was going to say when they asked me but once I got up there I kind of forgot everything, mumbled a few words, cried, laughed, and awkwardly made my exit in true Ashlee fashion. 

Beauty Didn't Change my Life.

What did change my life you ask? YOU. The Babes of Bellus. The friends I made along the way, the educators and staff who always had my back, the group of girls who lifted me up on my worst of days, who gave me a reason to come to school and push on in my program, the ones who inspired me on a daily without even knowing it, who danced down the hallways with me and in the middle of theory, who would make ugly faces at me across the room until the other person noticed, who had the most raw and unedited conversations about what the meaning of life is, the ones who inspired me to do better and shoot for the best, who asked me for advice whether it had to do with school or outside issues, who said "Thank you," who wrote me sweet little notes the day I graduated, who cried with me the last 2 weeks of my program, the 13 beautiful souls who stood up my last business huddle to tell me and our classmates how much I mean to you, who cried with me the day I left, and who told me they were proud of me when I posted that I got my licensed. 


I started alone, yes. But I didn't finish alone. I have a group of Sisters and Brothers that I never asked for but I am SO glad that I now have. I never knew how much I needed a group of strangers. 


Beauty Didn't Change my Life - You Did!


With Love My Babies, 
Mama Felks 

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