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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

“Curly hair hangs on to everything until it’s brushed out.” My stylist shared those words to reassure me after I apologized over and over again for the trouble my hair was causing.

The length was down past my hips. The ends were dead, slowly falling out and needing to be cut. Even after a deep conditioning treatment and a fine tooth comb, my hair would not quit its life upon my scalp.

Unfortunately, I’m an Olympic athlete in overthinking. Every appointment or every interaction, alarms sound off in my head that they’re judging me. Hair salons make my stomach turn violently, and the dentist’s office gives me headaches. Deep down, I knew the reason why I had all that anxiety, but it took this one appointment for me to see it for what it was.

These people are professionals. They’ll see right through me and tell me what I’m scared to admit. As she struggled, I sat there, realizing why my hair was dry, broken, and matted. My thick locks were not well taken care of. I was not taking care of myself.

We fell back to silence, her still working on my hair. I couldn’t use “college kid” as an excuse. I had the time to go shopping for better quality hair care products or even a new detangling brush. The issue was I couldn’t get out of bed early enough most days.

The stylist on the other side of the mirror looked to check on her coworker. Her eyes went wide, and she looked disgusted. My hairstylist nodded back in the mirror with raised eyebrows and the same wide eyes. Nightmares were coming true, and they didn’t have the decency to do it behind my back.

I felt my stomach turning and my head thudding. I wanted to leave. With my wet hair draped over my eyes, I started to tear up. I kept repeating, “I’m sorry.”

She continued to say she was happy to help me and my “beautiful hair.” At one point, she joked that she’d rather be cutting my hair than folding towels in the back room. I felt lighter, but for all I know, she could’ve caught on. I saw her in the mirror, and she tried to make me feel better. There we go again with the overthinking.

Suddenly, I saw my Aunt’s face appear in the mirror. She had stopped by the salon as a surprise but got quite the surprise when she turned to see my face. I exclaimed that I was anxious, obviously sparing big details at the moment. She got comfortable next to the mirror and started talking about my younger cousins. I also knew what she was doing. 

Nevertheless, the distraction was good for me. When she started talking about bringing my cousins to visit me on campus, I cried even more. Teenagers don’t think it’s cool to hang around their family at that age. I only hoped they were okay despite all the turmoil of high school. It was easy to worry about them more than myself.

At the end of the appointment, I thanked my stylist for the 20th time. She said her chair was a safe space. I bit my tongue when thinking of her coworker’s horrible customer service. Maybe that was one ignorant stylist or perhaps my own stylist concluded my appointment by going to the back room and complaining about the sensitive girl with the ruined hair. I couldn’t afford to care.

Seeing all the knotted dead hair on the salon floor, I made several realizations. I realized that my anxiety had become too strong to live happily. Even worse, I realized that this year had turned me into a liar to my parents. I had never been one of those. 

I was lying that I was eating three meals a day. I lied about going on campus on the weekends. Really, I was swiping away all the notifications telling me that it’s been days since I clicked the little check mark that I was drinking water. I was turning over in bed and swiping away the check box telling me to do something today that made me happy. My hair was tangling itself up with each turn over my pillow.

For these last months, I have now had a couple of inches off my hair and a reality check. Maybe my anxiety has grown from this, and I’ll have a hard time getting back to a hair salon next time. Or maybe this was the domino that needed to fall the whole time.

Casey LaPlaca has been a member for the Her Campus at Tampa chapter since coming to the University. Her articles chronicle her consumption of art and media; also her occasional observations about injustices and inconsistencies. Beyond Her Campus, Casey is a Junior at the University of Tampa, specializing in Design with a double minor in Writing and Advertising. Her passion for art and expression lies in her lived experiences, which she writes about here and reflects on as a member of the Diversity Advisory Board at her University. Casey believes in both keeping a positive attitude and practicing the art of decompressing through rewatching a sitcom. She invites readers to sit back and enjoy a cold milkshake while we get nostalgic and/or enlightened.