We made a date to meet at a beer garden. Shortly before I was getting ready to leave, she sent me a message.
“I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have a habit of being late. Just a heads up!”
I giggled to myself. I appreciated the honesty. That’s how she is. Upfront and honest. Bold. Confident. This is part of the reason I wanted to sit down and chat with her. She had been doing my hair since I was 16, and every month or so I get to catch up with her in a salon chair. From a distance, I’ve watched her life unfold and change and fall apart and come back together, and she’s done the same for me. From high school dances, to doing my hair on my wedding day. She’s been there.
I knew Cate was a person that had gone through a lot of life changes that led her to find a new version herself. I had seen that from an outside perspective. But that’s what it was. An outside perspective. I wanted to dig deeper and listen to her story about how she’s transformed personally over the years.
I’ve learned to gravitate towards women who inspire me. I never used to be that way. Whenever I noticed a strong, confident woman, an internal voice came on:
Who does she think she is?
Answer: A badass. That’s who.
Now I’ve transitioned any comparison, or jealously, or anything-but-positive thought into curiosity. I’m interested to learn more. I want to hear the details. The journey. The lessons learned. I want to learn from them the best I can.
And that’s what Cate has been doing for a long time.
There’s no such thing as just “doing hair”. Think about it. For some women, the moment they sit down in the salon chair, it’s their only time to vent. Their only time for themselves. The only pause they get. We go to the salon, we sit, and we talk. We tell our hairstylist things we wouldn’t even tell our friends. It’s like therapy in a sense.
Cate has been doing hair for a long time, and she recently expanded her career into a coaching business. I asked her about how she landed there.
“Being a hairstylist, I’ve learned a lot from so many women. I’ve heard so many inspiring stories. I wanted to take what I’ve learned to help other women be the best versions of themselves. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
She went on to explain how through her conversations, she had given her clients something to think about. A perspective they hadn’t considered.
“I love seeing when they have an “aha!” moment. That’s when I knew that I could really help other women, outside of being a hairstylist.”
It hasn’t always been about what other people have told in stories. Cate has gone through some life changes herself. She’s been open about her divorce, moving out of the house she lived in with her family and moving to an apartment in Ann Arbor. On nights she didn’t have her kids, she was alone. Something completely new and slightly uncomfortable at first. But through it, she grew into a version of herself she didn’t know existed.
She stopped checking boxes. She stopped caring so much about little things like throw pillows and coordinated outfits for family photos. She let go of that image of what her life should look like, and began recreating it into something that changes with her.
While Cate is awesome at being a hairstylist, she’s so much more than that. She’s someone who genuinely cares about her clients. I mean, she sent me a present when I graduated high school. She asks about how my mom is every time I sit down in her chair. And I know she’s done the same for many other women who go to see her and come out of the salon looking and feeling their best.
We can learn so much from others by just listening to the stories they have to share. As if we have our own salon chair for people to come and sit and talk. Breaking down the wall of vulnerability allows us to open up and relate to each other in ways that we wouldn’t otherwise. Surface level conversations don’t dig deep. That’s not where we learn, and that’s not where we grow.
So the next time you see a strong, confident woman, pull out a chair and listen to what she has to say. You might learn something. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to be the best we can.