How Are You?(Why Not: Who Are You?)
I feel the need to write about what is happening inside. What is currently being examined, dismantled and rebuilt as a concept in my mind is most important to get out, while it’s still fresh to human experience. If people only shared things they've mastered, I believe our world would see a striking drop-in art. If we made sure we were completely ‘right’ in our opinions and ideas, unable to vacillate or grow with newfound experience, we might not experience growth at all. I always find it’s best to make the art while the art is making you.
All this being said, one of the thoughts being examined in Bay Barbers is surrounding deep conversation and small talk. Each time we have a client in our chairs it is an opportunity to connect. We want to know if the deeper conversation is proven to make people happier (Epley, A.P.A), why do so many people dislike it so much? I find it difficult to write about this topic for exactly that reason. I believe there is no right, or wrong way to socialize, and what works for one individual may not work for others.
Vulnerability must of course be acknowledged. It is not an insignificant feat to open up to another person. Even discussing how many kids you have, or what your last vacation was can be a daunting idea to some and disregarded as ‘unprofessional’ to others (I could write an entire post surrounding that word.) In truth, it’s just plain scary sometimes.
I believe one of the main causes of our surface-level conversations stems from an insecurity about our importance in life. We get lost in the thick weeds of “why does this person care about my life or what I think?” If we examine our relationships, often the closest are built on sharing thoughts, feelings, interests, opinions and/or deeper debating. I believe when we engage in conversations with the (possibly unconscious) belief that others don’t want to hear about us, and that we will be rejected if we attempt to break the mold, we miss out. What would happen if we consistently gave ourselves permission to show up with the assumption that others want connection just as much as we do? How much could all of us heal in this increasingly digital era if we actively committed to getting deep with others when we feel impelled to?
As Bay Barbers commits to understanding how we revolve around this foundational piece of interpersonal wellness, it's important as ever to remind our people that you are always worth the bravery it takes to open up and connect. You always have a space here for your depth, and if or when depth feels right to you, we are here to listen. Let's all do what's right for us.
Is our Esteem Enough?
“We don’t have to wait until we are on our deathbed to realize what a waste of our precious lives it is to carry the belief that something is wrong with us.”
The concept of self acceptance in comparison to self esteem is one we may very well spend all our lives continuously bumping into, brushing up against and perhaps occasionally tripping over (been there). In a barbershop, a great deal of people enter quiet and drawn into themselves and leave with a smile on their face and a swagger in their step. Maybe even momentarily existing in a space that promotes acceptance for who we are, like we hope Bay Barbers does. That swagger is what leaves us with that contagious sprinkle of confidence.
What perplexes me is when the people who we see to be successful and who may even describe themselves as confident, also feel undeniably insecure. Isn’t that a paradox? How can both of these things exist at once? Confident and insecure, proud and ashamed? It could be a paradox, but I believe it is a matter of the language we use to define our feelings of confidence. Self esteem is often defined as “the feeling of confidence we have towards ourselves when our successes or achievements are measured up well against our values.” Self acceptance, however, is the embracing of all of ourselves regardless of successes or achievements. The difference in these explanations, I believe, is how confident people can hold deep insecurity. It feels true to me that we can carry both a high self esteem or overall image due to our successes in life, but a low level of acceptance for flaws, faults and mistakes. However, if we know what’s wrong then perhaps we can make our way towards improvement by catching ourselves on our self-talk or our toxic praising. We can begin to stop measuring our self worth with achievement.
All of these things discussed are not necessarily our fault, but it's up to all of us as individuals to decide if it’s our responsibility. Will we be the ones to own our insecure default behaviours, or will we continue with what we know?
The Lone Wolf
“If I have to be you, I’m fitting in. If I get to be me, I belong.” -Anonymous
Remember that trendy “lone wolf” catchphrase? You know the one, it’s usually said in a really macho Hollywood movie? Yeah…aside from the fact that people who use it don’t know much about wolves (come on, where are your animal kingdom trivia skills?) they also don’t know much about humans. The tricky truth is: there is no ‘lone wolf’ kind of person. We are biologically hardwired for connection and belonging. I believe the belonging word is key, because it holds the interpersonal connection we have when we feel seen, safe and accepted as ourselves. Maybe for you that feeling is warm and subtle in your chest or perhaps a more bubbly excitement. In contrast, when we are trying to fit in, most of us end up feeling…incongruent. Sometimes our longing to fit in can drive us to words or actions that don’t feel aligned with our values (cognitive-dissonance is your $10 word here) and things just feel a little off. Maybe way off. Perhaps you’ve had enough practice at knowing when you’re trying to fit in, or maybe you’re showering a week later and the realization hits you. I find the home remedy for this incongruence is seeing people who let me show up exactly as I am and blasting some good music. It’s no coincidence that Bay Barbers has both those things available for you.
At Bay Barbers connection is what we build our space around. You have, and will always belong here.
Don’t Bother Others with Your Boundaries.
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”
Boundaries. Sometimes even reading, hearing or speaking the word out loud can bring up uncomfortable feelings in a person. We live in a world where we are constantly bludgeoned with messages like: 'take care of others before yourself,' “boys will be boys,” “just smile and be nice,” or “but they’re family” and so many more. Even if we might not have heard these exact phrases directly spoken to us (though many of us have) the message is clear either way: “self-sacrifice is how you should measure your own worth. Don't bother others with your boundaries.”
This kind of conditioning is especially prolific in how we raise our girls, but no one is unscathed. It doesn't take long to think about how these messages affect us. People unable to file for divorce- despite being deeply unhappy in their marriage, letting your boss belittle you in front of coworkers, saying “yes” but wanting to say “no.” What I find truly interesting about this conundrum is that we cannot have good relationships with others without boundaries. Oh the irony. We spend so much time trying to fit in and have people like us that we let people step on our feet and in doing so, ruin our relationships with resentment.
At the barbershop the relationship between the client and barber is crucial to every single cut. Boundaries are a pillar within our four walls. If each person prioritises their own wellness and establishes the boundaries they need we can cultivate lasting, meaningful, connective relationships with each other and in consequence create a truly loving space in our lives. Boundaries are not narcissism, and the only people benefitting from that narrative are those who gain from the making-small of others. Boundaries are a beautiful thing to celebrate, because ironically, they actually bring us closer. In the chair, behind the chair, and then out in our communities with a fresh haircut, we can see a wholehearted change. Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind, the bother boundaries bring.