Excited by the prospect of going out to dinner, I decided on a whim to do my hair last night. Twenty frustrating minutes later, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. I apparently have a huge gap of experience in the field of hair do-ing. True, I can’t remember the last time I made my hair do anything except be in a ponytail or a bun. But just because I don’t usually do my hair, does that mean that now, at the age of twenty-seven, I can’t do it, even if I want to?
Clearly, it does.
I now regret all of the opportunities I missed out on to learn and practice this useful skill. Countless sleepovers during which I dreamily allowed friends to curl my hair and straighten it and make it do things, all while I was busy watching Teen Wolf and picking at my cuticles, and not paying the least bit of attention to style or technique.
The bizarre hairdo I ended up with that evening looked like something my four year old niece would have come up with if she’d been playing with my hair while sitting on the couch behind me watching Hannah Montana. Eventually I gave up and went back to the bun.
There are two kinds of women in the world, I realized. Those who have acquired experience in the ways of hair and are fairly competent stylists, and those like me, who are constantly asking the first kind to do their hair for them.
I realize that some skills are innate—while others must be learned and practiced. However, I am now more aware than ever that I am bad at distinguishing between the two.
Take jumping, for example. A few years ago spent a weekend in a cabin in Vermont with a bunch of people I barely knew. I was one of the youngest people there, which made me feel super cool, and perhaps a bit overeager. At one point, the guys in the cabin began competing with each other to touch the floor of the cabin’s loft bedroom, getting a running start and leaping one at a time; and mostly missing. Guys who were just barely taller than me were almost making it, but I was the only girl there who seemed to want to try it myself.
“Hold on. I don’t find jump much. Do I actually know what I am doing?” I never asked myself that crucial question; I just assumed I had the skills necessary to compete. I took a running start, jumped with all my might and made it about two inches off the ground. A dozen guys I was vaguely trying to impress roared with laughter. I now know that I have absolutely no vertical jump whatsoever—although I had clearly assumed that I did. Now everyone else knew too. This is what we call natural selection at work.