Not long ago, Nasir was heavily addicted to drugs and getting high whenever he could. "I remember the days of when I would just hate myself and not even look in the mirror without crying, because I would just be so disgusted with who I was," he said.
After hitting rock bottom, Nasir knew that rehab was his only hope. With the support of his family, he got the treatment he needed.
Recovering from addiction was a daily struggle and, after returning from rehab, Nasir needed something to fill his time. His family and friends suggested he become a barber because cutting hair was something that he had always loved.
Nasir knew his clients were dealing with some of the same self-worth issues that he had when he was at his lowest.
"Sometimes, when you don't care for yourself anymore, you give up hope and so when you give up hope you lose sight of what's beautiful and that beautiful thing is yourself. So if you can be physically beautiful then that can spark a change on the inner beauty," he said.
While Nasir's stylish haircuts helped with his clients' outward appearances, he knew that true change had to come from within. He knew that he wasn't the answer to all of their problems, but he wanted to give them something meaningful to hold on to. He says the most important thing that he can give his clients is his time.
"A homeless person doesn't get the respect and attention needed.So letting them know that they are worthy of human interaction is actually the main purpose here," Nasir said. "Intimacy is the most important thing."
Intimacy is what Nasir wanted to provide his clients and that's what they gave him right back. While cutting hair, Nasir has heard all sorts of stories from his clients. Some of them made him laugh, but most of them were like a kick to the gut. Hearing about their hardships helped his healing process and strengthened his resolve to stay sober.
Providing care for the homeless hasn't been all smiles and haircuts. Nasir recalls one time that he almost quit:
"I had to stop doing a haircut because the guy I was cutting was the local heroin dealer for the area and he had to make a sale," he said. "I stopped the clippers so he could make a heroin deal in front of my face. This was influential because after this I was really disheartened, I was really upset for a bit."
Luckily, Nasir didn't quit. He ran into the same heroin dealer a month later, but something had changed... Actually, a lot had changed. The heroin dealer was cleaner, wearing better clothes and said he was no longer selling heroin. The man said he was trying to get his life together so he could get his kids back. Nasir knew that it would be a difficult road ahead for the man, but he was happy to be a small part of his recovery.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Nasir's story is Nasir himself. He doesn't think he's changing the world, he's just giving people his time and offering them haircuts. Nasir doesn't have any grand schemes planned; he's just a humble guy taking his recovery one day at a time. Incredibly, his healing process is healing those around him.
Even if you don't cut hair, you can learn something from the way that Nasir treats his clients. Always treat people with dignity and kindness and, if you can, give them a few minutes of your time to let them know that they matter. It might not change anything, but maybe it could change everything.