When I lived in the Raleigh/Cary area a great guy named Tim was my hair stylist. Tim was really great with my cut……and always accommodating to my schedule. Since days were difficult for me, my appointment times were sometimes set up to 10:00 at night. (He wasn’t a morning person….he didn’t mind.) And he was flat out fun to hang out with…..never a dull moment. (And getting a haircut…not usually the stuff of entertainment!)
I’ve colored my hair since I was in my 20s and almost always did it myself. I like playing around with it and I’ve never had the patience to wait through the process in a salon, even though that may get me a better result, but it just takes too much time (another result of a short attention span)! One night, during a 9:00 p.m. appointment, Tim finally talked me into letting him do my color. It was his specialty and he had been anxious to do it. I was tired and the idea of the extra pampering sounded good….so I agreed.
When Tim mixed up the color, I looked at it and said “Tim, that’s way too red.” I have a bit of an issue with red for my hair. For some reason hair stylists love to color my hair with red tones and I never have liked it that color….but always figured they knew what looked better on me than I did,so usually just let them. But this was worse than the norm……the color he mixed was this BRIGHT true red color. I balked. I said “Tim, my hair tends to suck up color….that’s going to be really red and I don’t want my hair really red.” Tim said “Kim, I am the professional. This is my specialty. This color will be perfect on your hair. It will just give you a soft red glow when you are under lights. Trust me. I used this same formula on someone else recently and it is was just a subtle change.” So…I conceded. He was the professional. While I had colored my hair probably a hundred times, I had never had one lesson on how to do it properly (just lessons learned from screwing it up.) He’d had tons of lessons with some of the best colorists in the country. Logically it made sense that he knew better than me. So….I let him do it his way.
He put on the color, I waited while it processed, and then it was time to wash it out. As Tim was washing, he said “Ummmm……..Kim…….you’re not ever going to see this. But I can fix it. I promise.”
How could I not see it? There was no way I wasn’t going to look (though he begged.) A few swivels and bumps and I was at the mirror. My hair was this amazing color of bright red. Not red that anyone would have as a natural hair color. More like the color where you would teach a child their colors. Primary color red. Bozo red. Red, red, red, red, red. Red that I didn’t think was even possible mixed with my dark brown hair.
It made me laugh. I didn’t stop laughing most of that night. Tim wasn’t laughing quite as hard, but he also had to laugh at himself a bit. He knew he would never live it down. Not sure he enjoyed my mocking “But you are the professional.” (Maybe I said it to much.) He did fix it…..though we were there until well after 1 a.m. (with work early for me the next day) doing it. But it reminded me of a very simple thing…. while I may not be a professional at a lot of things, there is no greater expert on me!
I now embrace that. I will almost always ask for the advice of others, and listen to the opinions of others when I am stewing over something in my brain….. I have wonderful smart, opinionated friends and family members, and they have incredible judgment (most of them….usually.) But if you are the type that gets insulted if your advice is not taken, it’s probably best not to offer it to me. Well, you can…..but you just may feel insulted. Only I can take info and twirl it around in my brain and see if it gels with my own thoughts and my own sense of timing. Only I can see if it lines up with my own morals and values and how I want to conduct my life. Only I can see if it seems to resonate with the inner urgings of the spirit. Only I have that added expertise that no other person will ever have….the sum combination of who I am.
You don’t become an expert on yourself living passively or always acting on the urgings of others. It actually requires a bit of work. I know a few “child people” who will never make a decision for themselves if there is anyone else around to do it. If you choose to be like this, there are many people around that are more than willing to take the control. And yes, you can always blame them when something goes wrong and say “Well, it wasn’t my idea.” Usually if you are this personality, though, you won’t be that outspoken….you will just quietly act the passive-aggressive victim and enjoy when others do it for you. You never take the reigns of your own life and accept responsibility for your own actions. It’s always the fault of someone else if it doesn’t work out. (Can you tell that this bothers me in a person?!)
To become an expert on yourself, however, you have to look at yourself as you really are. Your strengths and your weaknesses. In balance and unemotionally. You have to know what you believe and what you don’t believe. You have to be willing to make a decision for yourself, and live with the consequences of that decision. You can’t blame others if you make the decision to take their advice and it does not turn out well. When you adopted it, it became your decision. Most of all, though, to become an expert on yourself you have to pay attention to yourself. Not to who you want to be, but who you really are.
I’ve talked to people with health problems that were upset they were not diagnosed by their doctors correctly or quickly, but then after talking to them for a while you realize when they talked to their doctor they left out pertinent information about what was really going on with their bodies. They either made symptoms less than they were, were embarrassed with what was going on so uncomfortable mentioning it (so they didn’t), or expecting to be asked for all of the specifics and not ready to offer any information not requested. They didn’t mention what had changed with their body, or with their life, or important things about their past history. They expected their doctors to go on a fishing expedition in unknown territory….and while they could be a guide, they refused to do it. And then they complained that there wasn’t fish for dinner.
The professionals in your life can give great advice. The hairdressers, the doctors, your boss, your lawyer, your friends and family members…..you should listen to what they have to say and consider whether it resonates as something you should do. But it is your responsibility to bring the you to the equation. That should be your specialty. Don’t discount your ability to be your own expert. And your ability to say “That’s not right for me.”
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Aristotle