Today’s post is going to touch on a few things: mental health, hair care, and being a natural black girl in the news industry.
Saleen the busy bee
This summer has been extremely busy. I went to Prague, I moved out of my apartment in three days, and then I high-tailed it back to Virginia to start my internship. I worked from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days, and occasionally, I worked from 3 p.m. to midnight.
As to be expected, I was too tired to do anything when I got home, let alone wrestle with my hair, which I suspect is somewhere between type 3C and 4C. Most nights, I wouldn’t do anything to it at all to prepare for the next day. I’ve even committed the ultimate foul and stopped wearing a bonnet.
In the morning, I’d wake up, slap some gel on my edges, and throw my hair into a bun. I’ve been doing this for far too long, dating back to my days working at the bank. It has taken a negative toll on my hair, particularly my edges.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of “edges,” I’m referring to the hair that grows at my hairline. Mine were already pretty short and broken off because I have always taken poor care of my hair, but this hasn’t helped.
Taking pride in how you present yourself
I’ve been burnt out. Not having a real break this summer was one of the best decisions I could’ve made academically and career-wise, but the worst decision for my body.
It’s already difficult for me to go to bed early, so over the past few weeks, I’ve been staying up late and goofing off. I’ve been waking up in the morning and putting on whatever is clean.
For the most part, I didn’t care, that is until I went to the restroom at the station, saw myself in the mirror and realized how craptastic I looked.
Can your appearance affect your work?
Recently, we had to film for our internship project. A group of us interns went to Waterside to talk to their marketing director. I didn’t plan to be on camera, so again, I didn’t care what I looked like. When we got there, we decided we’d all shoot stand-ups. I didn’t want to because I knew I didn’t look presentable, but I did it anyway.
I had a second chance to redeem myself the next week because we were filming our tags in the studio, but I kind of blew that too.
I was hoping I wasn’t going to have to be on film because I just wasn’t feeling up to it, but I knew I needed to be prepared to because there was a chance that our other anchor would have to leave.
Sure enough, she left. Guess who stepped in to anchor with her flat twists and kindergarten teacher sweater on? Sigh.
I did fine reading my lines and smiling, but I knew I looked a mess. My portion of the video is cringeworthy, and I don’t like watching it because I’m disappointed in myself for making bad decisions (i.e. not sleeping or doing my hair), and for allowing my appearance to affect my performance at work.
The night before that shoot, I did make an effort to do my hair, but it wasn’t a smart one. I washed my hair and twisted it knowing my hair takes 525,600 minutes to dry. Needless to say, the twists weren’t dry, so I left them in and went to work, resulting in that horrible shoot. Never again.
The third time’s a charm
This week, I experimented with my hair a little, and I received one more chance to get it right. I made arrangements to go out in the field with a reporter. I thought it’d be a great learning experience, and a great way to shoot a stand-up. I went out with Marielena Balouris, one of WAVY’s multimedia journalists.
It was an awesome experience. I ended up not shooting a stand-up, but when we got back to the station, we both wrote voiceovers for the footage, she went over them with me, and then we recorded them. She showed me how to edit using AVID, and that’s when she suggested shooting a stand-up in the studio.
I worked with Taylor, a production intern, to organize it. The night before, I did a semi-dry twist out. I sprayed my hair with a little water and flat twisted it. This time, I knew my hair would be dry in the morning. I also picked out a dress and borrowed some of my mom’s shoes.
*Shout out to my Mom for letting me borrow her shoes even though I have flat feet and stretch them out*
When I went into the studio today, I was ready to go. We did a really good job, and while I know I have to work on being more natural and relaxed on camera, I felt pretty confident in my look.
After our shoot, as I was explaining my hair struggle to Taylor, I said:
“With natural hair, it either looks great, or it looks a mess.”
You know it’s true.
In the future, I think dry twist-outs are going to be a real life-saver for me when I don’t have much time to do my hair. I’m not against weave, but I have a feeling that weave looks 10 times worse than real hair when it isn’t properly attended to. I’ll just work with what I’ve got.
I’m not saying twists can’t be worn in the workplace. I’ve worn my hair in twists to work without thinking twice about it because they weren’t dry. I’m just saying that personally, I love my curls and I feel my absolute best when they are free.
I know how important it is to look good in this business, so this is something I’ll have to work really hard at, especially if I want to be the face that people turn to when it comes to getting their news and staying in the loop.
What to do when your inside begins to affect your outside
In order to find a solution to a problem, you need to find its source.
As I looked at myself in the mirror at the station, I was so angry with myself because I knew where it all stemmed from. I wasn’t taking care of myself emotionally or physically. I’d been eating horribly, not getting enough sleep, and not doing my hair because it takes too much energy and there was simply nowhere to pull that energy from.
This may sound extremely vain or simple-minded, but if there’s anything I’ve learned recently, it’s that when you look good on the outside, it motivates you to make your inside match.
This is all very recent, so I’ve got a lot of changes to make to my diet and sleeping patterns, and I’ve got to set aside time for myself, but I can say that actually taking the time to do my hair made me feel a lot better today.
This may be hard for some people to understand, but I’m sure those who have experienced depression, or any other mental illness or mood disorder can understand how important small victories like this are.
As always, I thank you for reading.
If you’re interested, check out some of the styles I wore during my internship that actually did turn out okay in the gallery below.