Do You Feel Heard?
By Melanie Bates
Do you ever just feel like no one hears you? As if you’re floating under the Pacific screaming “SHARK!” and the rest of the world is sunning themselves on the beach and watching their kids splash in the waves with sand on their arses?
Case in Point:
For the past few weeks my hair has looked like a particularly worn down coat of a buckskin mare who has been rolling around in the mud. Sort of dingy blond with a dark brown stripe down the center.
See what I mean:
I do not exaggerate. The difference between the color of my roots and the rest of my hair was as stark as this little guy:
So I went in search of a new stylist as the last time I got my hair cut in Utah it resembled a Q-tip that has been forgotten in a travel bag for the past seven years – slightly yellowed, frayed off of the cardboard tip like the last wisp of cotton candy on the stick, and, not to mention, forlorn.
I found someone at a reputable salon here in Utah and made my appointment.
Me: I look like a buckskin mare (Googled stripe on mare’s back to show stylist). I want to get rid of that and blend it with the rest of the blond and I’m not loving the orange/copper color in my hair; it’s too much and the colors are too cool. I look washed out. And I’m REALLY trying to grow my hair out. I don’t know what I was thinking when I cut it off last summer. Mid-life crisis, I guess.
Stylist: (Chuckles) Sure. We can add in some warm tones and keep the light blonds and just shape up and trim.
(Exit stylist as she prepares three bowls of color that all look exactly the same. Enter stylist.)
Note to self: Something is wrong. Where is the tinfoil? She’s using that big paintbrush to slop color right down my horse stripe. What’s happening? My 5 year old niece Adri paints better than that. It’s on my forehead, whatever color that is will stain my forehead and I have to go to a wedding tomorrow. (Hyperventilates)
Me: Can I ask what you’re doing?
Stylist: Have you never had color without tinfoil?
Stylist: This is the easiest way to handle color like yours.
Me: (squirms in sticky leather seat)
As I exited the salon and glimpsed myself in full sun in my side view mirror, I was stunned to realize that I now look like the Heat Miser from “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (combined with a buckskin mare and a hog-nosed skunk.) My hair is blond with a streak of flaming orange down the center. Add to this the fact that she took a good two inches off of parts of my once-all-one-length-in-an-attempt-to-grow-it-out haircut and had wielded a razor like a whirling dervish, ensuring that after tomorrow’s first wash I’ll once again look like that flaming Q-tip of old.
I recognize that this is a first-world problem. Really, I do. But this blog isn’t just about vanity and wearing a hat for the next three months. I do have a larger point to raise here.
Last week I watched Oprah’s commencement speech to Harvard and it really struck me when she said that no matter who is on her show, from Presidents to rock stars to soccer moms, invariably at the end of the taping, in some form or fashion, they ask her if they did okay; if they were HEARD; if they were seen.
Isn’t that the truth? Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Simply to be heard and seen from those we interact with? There have been many times in my life where I haven’t felt heard and yesterday was just one small glaring (literally) example.
And I’ve noticed that when I don’t feel heard I will keep saying the same thing over and over and over in an attempt to force someone, subconsciously, to hear me.
Yesterday, I told this stylist in a myriad of ways, how much I wanted my hair to grow out.
And I’ve heard others do this with me. I’ll be having a conversation with someone and they’ll say the same thing again and again and in my mind I’m thinking “what are they doing? I get it.” But here’s the reality – they’re not feeling heard, seen or acknowledged by me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve heard them loud and clear, the point is that they don’t feel as if I’ve heard them. Have you had this happen to you and wondered what that’s about?
If we go back to the basics – back to Communications 101 – in those scenarios, wouldn’t it just be kind to repeat back to the person what we’ve heard them say to ensure that we get it – that we really do hear them? Maybe that’s why we feel so alone at times – so separate and cut off from the oneness – because, let’s be real, sometimes we aren’t really listening. Sometimes we’re playing Candy Crush on our smart phones while checking Facebook every 3.5 seconds and thinking about the Almond Joy pieces hidden next to our beds.
I sure do wish the stylist would have repeated my words back to me yesterday, “Okay, so you don’t want to look like Mr. Heat Miser reincarnated as a buckskin mare who coupled with a hog-nosed skunk and you regret the decision to cut off all of your hair during a 700 kelvin hot flash. Got it.”
By Melanie Bates