Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Thrifty Grad Student Exercise - Vanity On A Budget

I realized over the weekend that I was in dire need of a hair cut. Unbeknown to me, my hair grew far too long since I've lived in Kingston. In the midst of writing essays, marking essays, keeping up with readings, along with daily sleep deprived delirium, I've paid very little attention to physical appearances, much less the state of my hair. Really, I'm surprised. I would have thought I'd pay more attention, in light of my penchant for vanity. (What? I admit it. We all have some vanity in us!).

However, I was in a dilemma. I couldn't bring myself to justify spending my usual amount on a haircut at a strange salon in downtown Kingston. What can I say? I have trust issues when it comes to my hair. Perhaps it has to do with the number of horrifying experiences I've had at different salons over the years. One of which includes a visit to First Choice Haircutters (Never go there. Never) where one "hairstylist" (and I use that term with quotation marks since her work deserved no such title) cut bangs way above my forehead. To the point where I was forced to wear a headband for almost a year until it grew out. Terrible experiences, terrible! Three hours away from Toronto, I sit here in Kingston missing my usual salon haunt. Fiorio's in Yorkville or Square One has been my re-assuring solace in the midst of haircutting dilemmas. But it's three hours away.

In addition to these reservations, I also couldn't justify the cost of a haircut in a strange salon in Kingston. We're grad students on a budget, folks. In addition to issues of trust, I couldn't bring myself to spend $50 to $80 on a mere haircut that had huge potential to go awry. Plus, that's $50 to $80 on potential grocery money. Or Christmas shopping money. Or utility bill money. I couldn't justify the cost, friends. And after a couple of months living as a grad student away from home, I don't know if I can ever justify spending that much on my hair ever again. Is my hair really worth that much? Really? Let's review. It's hair.

And so it dawned on me that for the thrifty, cost-efficient (and suspicious!) grad student, grooming can still occur on a budget. Behold, I came up with my brilliant (or perhaps not-so-brilliant?) idea in a matter of seconds. I decided, dear readers, to cut my own hair.

I did it. I really did it. I chopped three inches off my own hair while standing in front of my bedroom mirror. Classic.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Perhaps this insane idea came in the midst of sleep deprived delirium. And so this past weekend, I opened the drawer that held my kitchen scissors, stood in front of the mirror, held up half my hair, and chopped off three inches in a single snip.

As I continued, I became ruthless. To the point where, dear readers, I had chopped almost 4 inches off my long, waist-length hair. As I held an entire lock of hair in my left hand, my eyes widened when I realized how much I chopped off. That was a lot of hair. I panicked. I had snipped away the source of my vanity in a matter of minutes. What had I done?

A few days later, I'm a tad bit calmer. A tad bit wiser. And a tad more accepting with the current state of my hair. Hair grows, right? Overall, I'm actually rather pleased with myself. My own personal how-to exercise on grad student thriftiness allowed me to do something I would never have imagined doing. More importantly, I'm learning to be cost-efficient to save for activities and items that deserve those funds more (i.e. EUROTRIP 2011 to Madrid and Barcelona. But that's a blog post for another day).

And so what can we learn from this? As grad students, there are a number of ways we can cut costs, if we choose. That coffee we purchase in the mornings can be made at home and placed in a Thermos. That lunch (read: pizza) we purchase in Mac-Corry can be made at home. That water bottle we purchase can alternatively be a refillable water bottle that contains filtered tap water.

And the result? Friends, we can be cost-efficient if we try and if we desire to be. Really, pushing beyond our inner vanities, I think we can do it!

"Don’t let go too soon. But don’t hang on too long."
- Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

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