Alison Valsamis, member of The International Beauty Industry’s Independent Judging Council was named one of Modern Salon’s Top 100 Game Changers and Influencers and was nominated a Behind the Chair One Shot Award for Waves and Curls Shot of the year. In 2018 she styled the cover of Modern Salon’s August issue and won the BTC One Shot Award for Upstyle of the Year. She offers online braiding and up styling classes and individual coaching. She has spent the last 3 years traveling nationally and abroad teaching long hairdressing and bridal and braiding workshops, and opened Braided and Blonde Studio in 2018 in Shelton, Connecticut.
Alison Valsamis is a master stylist and colorist in Fairfield County, Connecticut
I think it’s safe to assume that over the last few weeks, you have had some really big feelings. In the midst of a global pandemic, we are all collectively processing and grieving life as we once knew it. At its core, this event is a universal emotional trauma. Trauma occurs when your sense of security is taken away forcefully and without warning. And this, is exactly what has happened to millions of people… at the same time.
The thing about trauma, is that each and every single one of us will have a completely different experience processing it. And it is important for you to know, that whatever feelings you are having, whatever thoughts are crossing your mind, and whatever you are doing (or not doing for that matter), you are not alone. More importantly, every single one of them are valid.
Trauma, under the “normal” circumstances, leaves you feeling isolated. And right now, life has doubled down on that isolation and we are all literally isolating (That is a LOT of aloneness). And so here we are… having really big feelings, grieving really big losses, and it seems impossible to not feel alone.
In our old life, we spent years and years cultivating a society that fuels and runs on the need for external validation. We search for our “ok-ness” in Instagram likes, in reposts, in yelp reviews, in Facebook forums. We poll our friends and family and clients. We google ad nauseam our situations and circumstances, just to collect the evidence we need to give ourselves permission to feel our feels.
The sadness, anger, guilt, depression, anxiety, and fear that accompany traumatic events are very personal. They are a direct result of how you, as an individual, are responding to the uncertainty around you. Sometimes, when we go searching for the validity of these feelings, we can’t find it anywhere. This is especially true right now.
“..each of you will need to decide what is best for you. Not what your neighbor is doing. Not what you see someone doing on Instagram. Not what you read on an opinion blog. When we do start to reopen, in order to move forward at all, you and you alone will have to make hard decisions.”
I spend most of my time right now using my platform on social media to promote mental health awareness and providing resources and perspective on healing from trauma and grief. I speak to hairdressers every single day, from all over the world. My private Facebook group consists of stylists from over 12 different countries. And I am writing this right now to be the validation you may be looking for, for whatever feeling or thought you may be having. To assure you, that other hairdressers are having similar thoughts, fears, anxieties, and struggles.
Last week, I polled over a hundred stylists anonymously to be able to share the results, and in doing so, maybe give others some relief. The results, as I expected, showed how different our feelings are, but also, that whatever feelings you have, there is someone else having them too.
When asked whether or not they miss doing hair, the results were split. That’s right…. 50% off you do not miss doing hair at all. And given the hours and the physicality our jobs demand, it is OK to not be missing it right now. It is also just as OK to be missing it like crazy.
On feeling safe returning to work, 77% of you do not feel safe or ready to return to the salon. Given the circumstances surrounding us, this is to be expected. However, that means 23% of you feel safe and ready to return. And you know what, there isn’t anything WRONG with that either!
“I spend most of my time right now using my platform on social media to promote mental health awareness and providing resources and perspective on healing from trauma and grief. I speak to hairdressers every single day, from all over the world.”
I have heard from countless stylists that are feeling so much pressure to take a million classes, create, practice, and create some more. Remember, this is traumatic, and trauma will make you TIRED!! Your body is literally shutting down centers of your brain to conserve energy. So if you are feeling totally blocked, and less creative than ever, then you are with the 60% of stylists that I surveyed. There is nothing wrong with you.
When we’re faced with times like these, we are also faced with reevaluating our lives. Deep rooted fears and thoughts will be brought to the surface. Fears about our future are real and understandable. This time could also be reaffirming things we’ve always known. 75% of stylists know with certainty that hair is their calling. And I think that is incredible. And to the 25% of you that are questioning if you will ever go back to hair, then my friend, now is the time to sit with that, and plan what is right for you.
Because, ultimately, at the heart of this all, each of you will need to decide what is best for you. Not what your neighbor is doing. Not what you see someone doing on Instagram. Not what you read on an opinion blog. When we do start to reopen, in order to move forward at all, you and you alone will have to make hard decisions. Trust your feelings. They are valid. You have the answers you need. And I am here with you.
See Alison’s Instagram post with poll results: