My First Year: Empty Chair Blues

Editor's Note: Kelly Wilson approached NAILS Magazine saying she’d love to read a blog from someone who is just starting out in the industry. We liked the idea, so we offered Wilson this space to write about the ups and downs of a first year nail tech. Tune in each week to hear more from Kelly, and feel free to leave your comments below the post.

I have given out more business cards than a person dressed in a dinosaur costume handing out “buy one, get one free” burrito flyers. I have run specials for pedicures and manicures and plastered social media with open appointment memes. But alas, my chair is still empty. 

As I stare at my empty chair with the minutes ticking by, my anxiety and doubts start to kick in. "Did I really put myself out there?" "Did I really choose the right career?" "Am I enough?" My co-workers keep telling me "Don’t worry, it will happen, it just takes time."  Still, I think, "Sure, say that to my electric bill." I have learned this week about the "empty chair blues.”

The "empty chair blues" is self-doubt.  You start to wonder if you are good enough, if you'll be able to survive in this industry. Are my prices too high, did my breath stink talking to potential clients, did someone see me giving myself a pep talk and think I was a babbling fool?! "It's okay, everything will be all right." Self-doubt is trying its hardest to run me over with a semi-truck of gloom and despair.

The hardest part of empty chair blues is waking up, getting dressed, driving yourself back to work, and seeing that empty chair. And what makes that empty chair even more difficult is when you see other people’s chairs are full. So you sit there, hoping and praying to have your chair filled liked everyone else's. But at the end of the day, it's still empty.

On the way home, with your windows down and the radio going, you ask yourself, "What am I doing wrong"? Then you start to wonder if you could sell one of your kidneys to make it, or get a sugar daddy, only to remember you’re not "sugar baby" material and it might be better to hang on to both kidneys for now. Ya know, just in case one of your kids needs the extra someday. Then, in the midst of all your negative self-talk and crazy solutions, that song comes on the radio.The one that always lifts your spirits and brings back hope. Thanking the radio gods, you turn it up and start singing every word. And in that moment you realize again that you are enough for this. You have prepared, studied, and now your license hangs in a real salon!

I'm writing this today to say: Look for what keeps you going through this period of your career. If it’s painting, working out, listening to music, looking through nail magazines, or nail art photos — keep going! DO NOT STOP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE! So we didn't have clients today. It's okay. We just have to keep going even when our checking account says otherwise. So without further ado, I am going to keep lip syncing to this song while flipping the "empty chair blues" the bird.

You May Also Like: My First Year: Meet Kelly Wilson

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