Monday, August 14, 2006

getting what you want

i find that the most valuable lesson about getting what you want can be learnt from a trip to the hairdresser's.

first of all, i think that the hair salon is second only to the dentist's office in terms of places where i feel most vulnerable. in both those places, you have to put your complete trust in a person who has the power and the tools to either cause irreparable damage or perform an incredible act of skill. it's just that at least at a hair salon, you're not lying supine and the hairdresser doesn't have a mask and goggles on while he/she prods around in one of our 7 orifices (count 'em!).

anyway, you need a bit of background info on this. although i am a perfectionist, i hate hurting people's feelings. i have a terrible tendency to "let things go" and have people semi-stomp all over me because i am compelled to be "nice" while silently fuming inside because my perfect plans are all screwed up. so let's say someone makes a mistake and looks genuinely sorry for it, but that mistake has cost me what i want. i would most probably pat that person on the shoulder, tell him/her not to feel too bad about it, and then resist the urge to whine and bitch about it to someone else lest i come across as "nice but whiny".

so you can imagine the dire consequences that have resulted from my reluctance to assert myself when it comes to what i want. especially when it comes to my hair.

on sunday, my mother, sis and i went over to the hairdresser's to get our hair styled for a wedding we had to attend that afternoon. while i was getting my hair washed, a young, pretty girl clad in pageboy cap, tank, mini and leggings (aka clueless apprentice hairdresser) asked me how i would like my hair styled.

usually i take this as an opportunity to get my hair blown dry straight because my wavy hair is the bane of my life. however, fresh from getting flattering comments about my curls the previous night (i did not wait in vain), i was determined not to let her iron out my natural waves. so i told her that i wanted it to be natural, as in leave my natural curls in.

"oh, so curly la?" she clarified, like any good clueless apprentice should. i nodded and she went back to scratching my scalp raw with her manicured nails.

here's where i digress: people, don't ever massage your scalp with your nails when you wash your own hair. use your fingertips. female magazine does not lie.

what happened next was that she proceeded to blowdry my hair without even so much as drying the loose drops of water first (female magazine says that's a no-no; your hair can get damaged). for the next 20mins or so, she and my regular stylist proceeded to put curls in my hair where there were none and i, being engrossed in a tabloid story of how jen is mad at brad for casting angie as daniel pearl's wife in a role promised to her (jen not angie) for the movie adaptation of "a mighty heart", didn't notice a single thing.

until it was too late. i looked like i stole medusa's wig. then miss manicured nails came up to me and sheepishly said, "um, it costs RM10 extra for curls."

curls? what curls? i said my hair is naturally curly and i just wanted it to not be poker-straight, that's all! and, if i knew about the extra charge, i would have stopped you earlier and you wouldn't have had to waste all that time blowing unwanted curls in my hair.

but the girl just kept apologising profusely about not telling me about the extra charge and for misinterpreting what i said. incredibly, she carried on blowing even more curls into the mess of curls that was now my hair while looking utterly miserable about her mistake. it was almost as if she expected me to say, "oh well since you're already 99% done, i can't very well be a bitch and ask you to wash it all out and re-blow dry my hair right, you poor little apprentice girl you?"

which was precisely what i said.

yeah. like i mentioned, i am just hopeless when it comes to this. i don't really have much trouble asking a typist to retype something or for anyone to change things that are easily changed, but when it comes to getting people to change things that they have put in alot of time and effort into, i just become a bowl of mush.

luckily my mother, the original step-all-over-me i got my genes from who is now older and much more experienced in getting what she wants, decided to be the meanie on my behalf and demanded that apprentice girl wash out my curls and start over.

which she did. and i came out of it with seriously gorgeous hair.

my mother has tried time and again to make me learn the lessons she learned too late in life. she's the one who is most concerned that i will go through life being a semi-stomp all over, although i am very much aware of my weakness myself. it irritates me that i allow people to weasel their way to my really too-soft heart and that it is preventing me from excelling the way i should.

on a more serious note, i've found out that my reluctance to hurt people has extended beyond looking out for people's feelings - i'm afraid of inflicting physical pain on anyone too. i guess that came from the time right before my grandmother's death, when every touch was painful to her and every word uttered was an excruciating noise in her ears. now when i go to the hospital, i am so afraid of touching patients lest i hurt them, even if their afflictions have nothing to do with pain. it has hindered me from practising performing physical examinations, which is something i need to get used to, and it's putting quite a bit of stress on me.

well, i guess i should start with working on my inability to assert myself when i want something and then go backwards and work on overcoming my fear of causing pain, whether emotionally or physically. there will most definitely be situations in the future where i'll have to both stand my ground and potentially cause pain. i certainly do not want to buckle and disappoint, not just my perfectionist self but others as well, when that time comes.

lishun at 4:33 PM