Growing up, I've always had a hard time accepting myself as I am. I know I'm not alone. I’ve always compared myself to others and wondered why I couldn't be like other people. Always picking myself apart from the way I looked to how I acted. I thought that our exteriors defined who we are on the inside.
Both of my parents migrated to the U.S from Mexico looking for a better future. From pre-school to first grade, we always lived in a town that was predominately Mexican-American. I spoke Spanish pretty much everywhere - there was no need to learn english yet... until we moved to Santa Cruz. It was then that I started to learn english because most of my friends only spoke english. I pretty much just mimicked how everyone else spoke, not really knowing exactly what I was saying, and that's how I learned english. At home, I spoke only in Spanish with my parents. I knew I was different and instead of embracing my cultural difference and being proud, I felt ashamed. I remember asking my mom to only talk to me in english when she came to pick me up from school. My parents were both really busy working hard to be able to provide for me, and because of that they weren't really around to support me with the challenges I was having. I felt so alone throughout all this. It was as if though I was living a double life - my school life and my home life. When I was in 6th grade, I experienced what it's like to have your family broken up due to immigration laws. I am an only child, so it had always been us 3 - for a year it was only 2. That changed me. I was broken up by the experience, so much so that I believe that is where my depression started. Our whole world came crashing down after that and it was difficult to get back on our feet. We were homeless for almost a year; crashing on families couches, sleeping in shitty hotels, and living in a small trailer. After we got to a more stable place, we all thought things would get better, but I actually started becoming a closed off, angry, rebellious teenager.
I became obsessed with the beauty industry and started dabbling in makeup at a very young age. By the time I was in 7th grade, I was wearing full face make-up, plucking my eyebrows and relaxing my hair. I continued to wear more and more make-up trying to find the perfect beauty concoction to make me feel whole. I started hanging out with “the wrong crowd” wanting to fit in. I even started dumbing myself down in school because I thought it was "cool". I would intentionally fail my classes when in reality school had always been pretty easy for me. That caught up to me real quick though. At first I thought I had it under control, but then I realized I actually couldn't keep up with my school work anymore and that I was really was failing!
My room was filled with hair products, makeup, shoes, clothes, and posters of artists I admired, yet I still wasn't satisfied. I had every material thing I “needed”. My parents would work hard to get me everything I wanted just to try to make me happy - they didn't know what else to do to please me. I would shoplift a lot to get things my parents couldn't afford. I just couldn't get enough. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 14 years old. My depression was very severe - sometimes I couldn't even get out of bed or look at myself in the mirror. I started self-medicating with materialism, alcohol, food, prescription medicine and being bully - yes I was a mean girl. I knew in my heart that wasn't who I really was, but I didn't know what else to do to make myself feel good. I started putting other people down to feel “powerful” but it only kept making me feel worse and worse.
My selfishness eventually brought me to beauty school. I wanted to be as close to what I thought “beauty” was. I started school just before my 16th birthday. I wanted to get a license to be the best makeup artist I could be. Little did I know we weren't going to do any make-up in beauty school. Regardless, I completed my courses and as a result I fell in love with hairdressing.
I got my license July 2008 and started assisting a team based salon in August 2008. I like to call those my “Cinderella” years - when I had just graduated from beauty school and thought I knew everything about hair. I didn’t, at all. I am still very grateful that I landed an assisting/apprentice gig after finishing school. It helped me build a solid foundation of good habits, education and experience. Honestly, I probably wouldn't be doing hair today if it weren't for that experience. I really don't know how some “fresh-out-of-beauty-school” students jump into it without any guidance.
It wasn't until 2011 when I got a “reality check” and realized that this career wasn't close to my initial idea of what beauty was. My job was to bring other people up. I had to really listen to my clients so I could transform the image of how that person views themselves in their mind. Our exterior is only a very SMALL glimpse of who that person really is on the inside. I started becoming more aware of how important my career really is. I knew I was meant to be in the beauty industry when I started feeling whole as I would uplift others and be a part of altering someones outer appearance. It became a big deal. At that time, I realized that I did not choose to be in this path, this is the path that was chosen for me. I have met so many incredible people throughout my journey as a hairdresser; clients, coworkers, and mentors - all whom I've learned many life lessons from. I can't imagine my life without these people! I truly believe every human being has something to teach. We are all on this journey through the human experience, and in this day and age we have become connected through technology. I've decided to share my stories of beauty, self-care, awareness and struggles. The beauty industry has helped me grow, so my life revolves around my career as a hairstylist. As I continue to grow, I would like to help inspire and be inspired by others and their stories.
I would like for people to understand that the person working behind the chair is a human being - not a robot or a magician. I am so fucking tired of always comparing myself to others - it's exhausting trying to “keep up." I’m slowly learning to feel comfortable in my own skin. Embracing my unique-ness. Owning my shit. Facing my shit. Dealing with my shit. Focusing on self-care. Being my authentic self. At the end of it all, I'm still growing personally and professionally, all whilst I continue to do things that make my soul feel good. †