It occurs to me that I have mellowed considerably over the years. When I started doing nails, back in 1992, it always struck me as odd that people would continue to come back to me when I broke all the "rules" of doing business.
I talk. About myself mostly, and I tend to monopolize the conversation. And I talk about "taboo" subjects: religion, politics, etc.
Now here's the thing: It took me about two days of kindergarten to figure out that I am not like most people. Back then I wasn't really sure why I was different or how to fix it, and by the time I was out of high school I still wasn't sure what it was, but I knew two things: It had gotten worse, and it didn't need fixing.
So by the time I landed behind the nail table in front of real, live people who I really hoped would pay me on a continuing basis, I discovered several more things about myself.
First, I discovered that I had a nervous compulsion to talk to my clients. I really felt that sitting with my head down while I was working and not even trying to entertain my guests was rude. So if they didn't start talking, I did. Still do.
I also found that in some instances, that's the best way to look forward to seeing them again. Not everyone turns out to be someone I want to sit and chat with for an hour or two — and the best way to avoid discovering that is to not let them talk.
Secondly, I discovered I don't share many prejudices. And most people have prejudices they'd like me to share.
Which is how I came to find myself in awe that I was building a clientele, considering I never had a problem speaking up and letting people know that I did not share their prejudices.
Over the years, be it politics, religion, culture, race, sexual orientation, generational values, technology ... you name it, if people can have an opinion about it, they probably don't have the same opinion I do.
Tonight I heard a familiar voice. Tonight I heard my own voice from about 17 years ago, humorously, but sternly, correcting a client's terminology while — hopefully — letting it be known that I don't really feel that way about that particular group of people. And it occurred to me that I haven't spoken up like that for a long time now.
Is it because I've gotten so much better at nodding and smiling? Or is it because I've built a solid clientele of people who know how I feel about things?