I went to Vegas and had my hair pinned back by a 22-year-old woman who believes her purpose in life is to do hair and work in the beauty industry.
That’s cool. Doing hair is a great job.
My Nana was a beautician for over 50 years. She owned a salon in her basement on the south side of Chicago. She managed inventory, ordered equipment and kept a ledger while raising three children and caring for her sick husband.
I love my Nana’s story. Doing hair and make-up has empowered so many women all over the world. The beauty industry, as complicated as it can be, lifts women and children out of poverty.
But this young chick also told me that if she’s not doing hair, she doesn’t know who she is.
She tried to go to college. Wasn’t for her. That’s fine. Not everyone is meant for school. I asked, “Do you have any hobbies?”
She said, “I go to the gym and watch beauty videos on YouTube.”
Yikes. Okay. There you go. This young woman wants to create her own YouTube channel and teach other women how to do hair and make-up. She is also interested in fashion. It sounds like she has an interest in marketing and social media.
“No, not really.”
Hmm. I asked — how do you define success in the beauty industry? What does that mean? How do you know if you are good at hair, beauty and fashion? Will it be through money? Is it prestige or social recognition from peers?
Nope, it’s through notoriety. And just being happy.
“It’s not that I want to be famous or anything. Well, I mean, everyone wants to be famous. I just want to follow my passion. God has blessed me. Success and money will follow.”
Yeah, okay. I get it. I can’t fight Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. When the “happiness industry” meets Jesus, it’s a powerful force. How can my good advice overcome the wisdom of a small group of white men who tell their followers that a purpose-driven life matters more than money?
So I took a different path and told this young woman that there may come a time in her life when she can’t work in the beauty or fashion industry. Maybe she won’t get famous. Or God might bless her in different ways (e.g., with a family) and she might have to make choices about balancing passion with commitments.
But it wasn’t a different approach. I sound like her mom. She said, “That’s exactly what the other stylists say. They are in their 40s. I am part of a different generation. I’m not as cynical.”
Well, okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’ve got some work to do.
And I want to clarify that I am very happy that this young woman is having a great experience at work. She is very good at her job and deserves to have some fun.
But I want my position to be clear: passion doesn’t mean profession. And you don’t diminish one passion when you add another. In fact, adding other interests and hobbies broadens the possibility of experiencing a truly amazing life.
And I just want you to be happy.