Before the pandemic I used to want it all…Before the pandemic I used to do it all.
I travelled internationally working with artists such as Dua Lipa and Charli XCX. I was backstage in Paris, Milan and London assisting with every fashion show I could. I launched, operated and worked in my two salons. I collaborated with manufacturers. I held press events. I worked on editorial shoots. I mentored. I designed educational courses. I networked as often as my schedule allowed. I presented on stage. I entered awards – creative and business. And I loved every, fast-paced minute of it.
Then the pandemic hit and forced us all to stop. And to reflect.
Since I was three years old, all I have ever wanted to be was a hairdresser. 38 years on I still want to be a hairdresser. My drive and passion for hairdressing and our industry has never faltered, but recently, I have been asking myself if I really need to do it all. For as long as I can remember I have rushed from salon to shoot, from press appointment to award ceremony and the lockdown allowed me to stop and take stock of what is important to me. And what came out on top was my health and that included my emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health. To make this a priority I am beginning to realise that maybe I don’t have to do it all.
As with many of us the enforced lockdown made me think about what I do and what I want in life. For the first time I had a routine that put my health as priority. I ate better, slept better, created morning routines that nourished my mind and my body. I exercised more. I read more. I stressed less. All of this allowed me to become the best Sam Burnett I can be.
Focussing on gratitude has allowed me to feel the most content I have in a long time. The desire for more – more fun, more work, more money, more respect, more awards, more credit is a whole lot less than it was 18 months ago. And I think I like it. The difference is now I have the head space to figure out what I like and what I don’t like without the fear of being overlooked by an industry that means so much to me.
I wonder if others feel the same, but are too scared to speak up? It feels a little nerve wracking to say “I don’t want it all” but I believe it is important that we reset the expectations – and the pressure that comes with them. I’m starting to realise that you don’t need it all to be ‘successful’ and that success come from within. Before the pandemic we lived in a culture where success was often determined by how busy you were. I see now that I was part of that culture. Rushing around, saying yes to everything that came my way. I loved it and it helped build the career I have today, so I am not complaining but I am realising it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today I am happiest when I’m behind the chair, where it all began. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love editorial work, or I am in anyway less inspired or driven – because I am, in many ways even more so, but for today I am most content by working in the salon, reconnecting to my clients. More than ever, I appreciate that one-on-one time we missed during the pandemic. I’m not closed to opportunities and in no-way am I taking a backseat, I am simply prioritising my own health for the first time in decades. I am taking my time to consider what is important to me, my career and my business.
So far, this has given me more energy, confidence and clarity. Maybe in another 18 months things will change again, and if that is the case then I’ll be ready but for now, I’m going to focus only on the things that bring me happiness.