The other day, I got a haircut.

This, in itself, is nothing special. Most people get haircuts every once in a while.  My time was up.  The usual hairdresser was unavailable (a result of habitually making last-minute appointments for everything). Instead, I was going to see Mitch.

Mitch is a pretty good hairdresser. I felt like he knew exactly how to restyle my haircut from the one I'd had all of six months. I get bored easily and needed something different.

We started chatting in the way that hairdressers always try to tease out every sordid detail of your life. I don't have sordid details (or at least, I don't think so!) and normally cut off the conversation in order to have some quiet time. But Mitch was different. The conversation flowed. And it flowed because there was something decidedly different about this hairdresser.

"How was work today?" he asked.
"Oh, I wasn't at work, I was on clinical placement at hospital," I responded. "I'm a second-year medical student."
"I studied at your school!" he exclaimed, gleefully.
"You mean...hairdresssing?" I inquired, quizzically.
"No, no, dear, I studied Medicine undergraduate at your school."
Without missing a beat, "You're dating yourself, there, Mitch! We haven't run an undergraduate program in about 15 years."
"I know...I'm getting old..."

And so the conversation began. The man cutting my hair also happened to be a doctor (non-practicing), a dance instructor paid thousands of dollars to work 10 days a month in Hong Kong and a dance director for some television shows. I suddenly felt like HE should be the one in the chair being pampered, and I should be the one at work.

We chatted away at why he changed his mind from Medicine to hairdressing and dance, about life choices and where we are headed.

It was then that I was reminded of a decision I made when I received my offer for Medical School. Take the offer, try it out. If you don't like it, you don't have to finish. But I loved it and I knew I was in the right place. The longer I spend in the program, the more ideas I get on what I can do with my medical future. Mitch, on the other hand, realised that his true loves were more creative. That medicine was fun but he was mostly doing it because his parents were doctors and it had seemed a natural progression.

It reminded me that sometimes we need to make big decisions to make ourselves happy. Sometimes years of investment don't make for a necessary future. Pushing yourself to continue something that makes you unhappy or takes you away from your favourite pastimes is not a recipe for success.

It reminded me that assumptions may make life easier, but they also blind us to what can be interesting and deep conversations.  For once, the obligatory chit chat with the hairdresser didn't revolve around gossip magazines I've never read or the friend of a friend's daughter who's now going to my old school...and who I will never meet. For once, the conversation got me thinking.

It's time to question more assumptions. Even this one.


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