Bad Hair Days and Unmet Expectations


I’ve had natural hair for over a year, which means chemical-free. I haven’t had my hair trimmed in about that same amount of time. So one day I made a last-minute decision to try to get a hair appointment. I knew I desperately needed a trim and I was thinking a little color would be fun for the summer …

The Expectation 

I sat in the styling chair and clearly explained what I wanted. I asked for color one shade lighter than my natural color and only at the tips. We picked out the color that was a little lighter than my own, a kind of brown mocha shade.  

The stylist started lifting my hair and she was going way higher than I thought she should. She assured me that she was going to blend it so it wouldn’t look so high. She had already started, so I figured the chemicals were in so I would have to just trust her. I could also hear her speaking to another stylist in Spanish. I can’t speak Spanish, but between three years of Spanish in high school and two years in college I can make out words here and there. It sounded like she was asking the other stylist about my hair, how to do it, how to to use the lightener or something. I probably should’ve spoken up, but I didn’t.

I like to let people do their job, especially when it’s a job that they went to school for and are supposed to be qualified to do.

Long story short, my hair didn’t come out the way I wanted. Not at all.

She trimmed my hair in a strange way and did not follow the cut I already had even though that’s what I asked her to do. On top of that, there was way more color than there should have been. It was definitely not “just at the tips.”

I am not a person who gets angry and loud with people and tells them how horrible they are, but trust me my facial expressions and few words go a long way. She knew I didn’t like it. She tried to assure me that it looked great and then said I could come in later in the week, and she could fix it for me.

I was so upset as I walked to my car. I felt like I just wasted my Saturday and my money for nothing. I was there for almost five hours! Part of the reason was that the stylist was late for the appointment. I work long hours during the week, so my Saturdays with my family are especially cherished. I was so upset. I just wanted to sit in the parking lot and cry.

I thought about going back to get it fixed, but the problem was that I didn’t have time during the week to go back and we were leaving for vacation the next weekend. Instead, I went to the local Sally Beauty Supply store and got a color to go over it myself. But I figured maybe I shouldn’t do something when I was emotional, and I definitely didn’t want to make it worse.  

So I did nothing. I went to bed and woke up at four a.m. stressed, mad and sad about my hair. I went to work and got some positive responses from others about my hair, and then I told them how it was nothing like what I asked for.

I typically do not get upset easily. I’m pretty flexible with life, especially with being a military spouse and a mom.

But my hair… 

My hair has always been the thing that I felt I had control of. I’ve had many different cuts and many different colors since I was thirteen. I could be having the worst day ever, but a good hairstyle would help me survive.

Unmet expectations

I had been looking on Pinterest at different colors and cuts for a few weeks before I made that quick choice to get my hair done. I showed the stylist pictures and communicated what I wanted clearly with her. I had expected to leave the salon with my hair looking a certain way, and instead, it looked very different. And I didn’t know what choice to make in fixing it. My expectations were crushed, and I just wanted to go back to the way my hair was before that stylist got her hands on it.

I think we have all experienced unmet expectations. Kids express their emotions regarding disappointment constantly and freely. Because of their age, they are *kind of* allowed to throw tantrums, but we adults are supposed to have self-control and hold it all together.  

We can’t stop having expectations, but we can possibly be more prepared to handle unmet expectations.

How can we help ourselves handle unmet expectations?

I believe the first step is recognizing what your expectations are for any given situation. Ask yourself, are your expectations reasonable and realistic? Do you need to share your expectation with someone else involved? Is there anything you can do to further help your expectation to be met? Realize that you can not control all situations no matter how much we prepare for them.  

In hindsight there are some things I could have done differently in order to ensure my hair expectations were met. When I called to make the appointment with a stylist I had never used before, I should’ve asked about her experience and skill level. When I saw her using the lightener higher than I wanted, I should’ve spoken up right then and had her correct it. I also wished I would have told her to cut my hair dry. I may be scarred from this experience, and I’m not sure how long it will be until I step into a salon again. But lessons were learned. 

Not everything we want is going to be perfect. I’m writing this to a bunch of military spouses and moms, so I know we all understand that. Deployments and PCS’s may be a regular part of life for us, but they never produce the same experiences, and things will just about always go not as planned. Enjoy life for what it is.

Hair is hair and life goes on.

And thankfully, hair grows.